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EPA Refuses to Ban Pesticide Linked to Brain Damage in Children


Numerous pesticides have received close scrutiny recently for the dangers that they cause to humans. For example, the pesticide Roundup has been the subject of numerous lawsuits due to the possible link between the product and lymphoma. Lorsban, which is also known as Chlorpyrifos, has been linked with brain damage in children and other harmful effects for users of all ages. There is a common element between these two pesticides besides the danger that they cause. Specifically, the EPA continues to protect industry at the expense of users of these products and others exposed by refusing to ban these products or sharply restrict their sales. The agency has resisted intense pressure from safety advocates in order to promote a business-friendly agenda.

Lorsban is a pesticide that is used worldwide on many different crops.  The product was invented by Dow Chemical and is now made by a company that was spun off from the chemicals giant. Dow Chemical has been a large political contributor, donating $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration. The pesticide has been the target of numerous government restrictions over the years. In 2015, the Obama Administration proposed a permanent ban on the use of this product.  Lorsban is used on dozens of crops. The crop where Lorsban use is most prevalent is on corn, which is a staple of the food supply in many different respects. Corn is also used as animal feed so tainted corn can impact meat and dairy products.

The problem with Lorsban is that people become exposed to the chemicals in numerous ways. Residue of the pesticide remains on fruits and it has been found in nectarines, peaches, cucumbers and other crops. Lorsban contaminants many things that come into contact with it. For example, it can find its way into the water supply. If Lorsban has been used in an area, the particles in the air can breathed in and cause adverse health effects.

Some of the health problems that can result from exposure to Lorsban include neuromuscular symptoms since Lorsban primarily affects the central nervous system. These side effects can include muscle spasms, seizures and paralysis. Lorsban affects children more profoundly than adults, although it will have impacts on anyone who has prolonged exposure. When babies are exposed to Lorsban in utero, it can cause developmental disabilities such as autism.

Given the level of danger associated with the product, the government had previously taken action to have it removed from the market. However, the incoming Trump Administration took steps to reverse steps that were taken by the Obama Administration.  When a government agency makes rules, it first must propose the rule and give interested parties the chance to comment on the rule before finalizing it. This was one rule that was not finalized before President Obama left office. In 2017, the EPA announced that the product would not be banned. There was legal action challenging this decision, and a federal appeals court ordered the agency to consider objections to its decision to reverse the proposed ban.

In July 2019, the EPA released a final order in which it responded to the objections to its decision to withdraw the proposed ban. In this order, the agency indicated that it would not order a ban on Lorsban and that the product could continue to be sold. According to the EPA, the evidence of neurodevelopmental effects that was presented to the agency was not supported by valid, complete, and reliable evidence sufficient for the EPA to ban the product.  The EPA refused to even address any claims regarding Lorsban and water contamination due to procedural issues. The agency opined that these grounds for objections were not presented in a valid form so they refused to even address the merits of the claim.

Lorsban must undergo a registration review by the EPA by October 2022. The agency promised that it would continue to review data pertaining to the product and assess its safety in advance of this registration review.  Since the EPA refuses to ban the product before then, this is the next chance that removal advocates will have to get the agency to step in absent any court victory. In the meantime, the plaintiffs who have sued the agency in federal court to force a ban of the product have indicated that they will continue to pursue legal options against the EPA, including further lawsuits challenging the agency’s final order. Under federal law, agency rulemaking can be challenged in court and the agency’s decisions must have a rational basis. However, legal challenges to agency decisions have been met with a mixed record in court during this administration.

As has been the pattern during the Trump Administration, states have promised to take up the issue when the federal government has abdicated its regulatory responsibilities. Here, several states have either banned Lorsban or have promised to explore the issue of a restriction on its use within their borders. Hawaii has already banned the pesticide and California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York are considering bans as well. New York and California have already taken steps towards banning the product, although industry groups will likely challenge the state-level bans with litigation.

If you or a loved one were harmed by a hazardous chemical, please contact the Toxic Chemical Attorneys at the Law Offices of Sadaka Associates.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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