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EPA must bar the use of hazardous pesticide Chlorpyrifos in produce farming

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A federal judge ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a pesticide that's long been identified as a health risk. The Seattle legal team that took the EPA to court calls it a victory for families everywhere.

Northwest Earth Justice says the EPA has known for years that the popular pesticide Chlorpyrifos is dangerous, but when Scott Pruitt took over as EPA Administrator, the agency continued to put families at risk.

Farmers have a never-ending battle against all sorts of bugs that damage and destroy their crops. In order to get the best harvest to market, many farmers turn to Chlorpyrifos. It's recognized as one of the most widely used pesticides in the world.

Chlorpyrifos is often used on kale, broccoli and lots of other fruits and vegetables. But because of it's link to brain and nerve damage in children, it was scheduled to be banned - until the new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt reversed that ban last year.

"It's been banned for residential use since at least 2000," said Earth Justice Attorney Marisa Ordonia in Seattle.

Ordonia serves as co-counsel for the legal the team that challenged the EPA in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in July.

Ordonia and her colleagues represented farm workers and their children.

"Farm workers are exposed in all of the ways that you can be," said Ordonia. "It's in the air through toxic drift. It's in the foods that they're close to, that they're picking. They're bringing them (the chemical residue) home to their children on their clothes. It's in drinking water, particularly in rural communities."

Consumer advocates argued that the EPA's refusal to ban the use of Chlorpyrifos on produce violates federal pesticide safety standards. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

"We're happy that EPA is finally going to have to do its job and act to protect children and farm workers especially, but all of us." Ordonia said.

The decision ultimately forces farmers everywhere to find bug-killing alternatives, if Chlorpyrifos is part of their pesticide protocol.

The EPA has 60 days to comply with the court's decision and ban that Chlorpyrifos from all use in farming the United States.

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