Supporting listing chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant and immediate suspension

Please sign organizational comment letter supporting listing chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant and immediate suspension

Hello everyone,

Please join Californians for Pesticide Reform by signing on to our comment letter supporting listing chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant and calling for an immediate suspension.

Deadline for sign on: Tuesday November 6

Background: Chlorpyrifos is a brain-harming organophosphate pesticide used in huge quantities in California – almost a million pounds per year. Banned for household use in 2000, the Trump Administration last year reversed a proposed federal ban. Now it’s up to California to act. Hawaii already banned chlorpyrifos in May.

According to the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s Toxic Air Contaminant report and a growing scientific consensus, chlorpyrifos poses a severe threat to human health, particularly to childhood and fetal brain development. Among the well-documented irreversible neuro-developmental impacts are ADHD, autism and IQ loss. It’s also linked to reduced lung function.  Chlorpyrifos is an environmental hazard, posing a threat to 97{5fc40a96f14c4a6aa4c2a32569b0a57dcc67c0b31eb04c341474283f11b6cdd2} of endangered wildlife species.

Our letter supports listing chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant and urges an immediate suspension.

To sign your organization on, please send me:

Jane Sellen<>
– your name
– your title
– the full name of your organization
by no later than Tuesday November 6, noon.
Here is the letter

November 9, 2018


Linda Irokawa-Otani, Regulations Coordinator

Department of Pesticide Regulation

1001 I Street, P.O. Box 4015

Sacramento, CA 95812-4015  

Re:      DPR Regulation No. 18-002 – Public Comment in Support of Proposal to List Chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant  

Ms. Irokawa-Otani: 

Californians for Pesticide Reform and the undersigned organizations strongly support the Department of Pesticide Regulation’s proposed regulation designating chlorpyrifos as a toxic air contaminant (“TAC”). The Final Toxic Air Contaminant Evaluation of Chlorpyrifos (“TAC Evaluation”) and the Scientific Review Panel properly concluded that chlorpyrifos should be listed as a TAC, based on overwhelming evidence that chlorpyrifos use in California threatens children’s brain development. 

However, a TAC listing alone is insufficient to protect public health. We urge you to take two additional immediate steps to protect Californians from substantial and ongoing health threats: suspend and cancel registrations for all chlorpyrifos products. As DPR acknowledges on the TAC program website, “[i]mplementing control measures under the TAC program is methodical and time-consuming,” and “DPR may use other legal authority to implement control measures, particularly for pesticides that pose an immediate health threat.” DPR does not expect to adopt mitigation measures for chlorpyrifos in the TAC process until April 2021—at the soonest. Suspension and cancellation cannot, and need not, wait. California’s children should not be put at risk for one more day. 

I.              DPR should promptly list chlorpyrifos as a toxic air contaminant.

We strongly support the proposed regulation that lists chlorpyrifos as a toxic air contaminant. DPR correctly determined that chlorpyrifos is a TAC because it is an air pollutant that causes or contributes to “an increase in mortality or an increase in serious illness, or which may pose a present or potential hazard to human health.” Specifically, airborne chlorpyrifos drift from currently allowed uses threatens brain development in our youngest Californians.  

A pesticide is listed as a TAC if estimated or measured air concentrations exceed a reference concentration divided by ten. The Scientific Review Panel concluded the TAC Evaluation “convincingly demonstrate[s]” that developmental neurotoxicity effects “occur at levels substantially below the level that causes 10{5fc40a96f14c4a6aa4c2a32569b0a57dcc67c0b31eb04c341474283f11b6cdd2} inhibition of red blood cell (RBC) acetyl cholinesterase inhibition, a level that was used in previous assessments of chlorpyrifos toxicity.” Furthermore, “[b]ased on a full review of all currently available science, developmental neurotoxicity is the appropriate regulatory endpoint for chlorpyrifos to protect health.” These conclusions are the result of thorough vetting and extensive scientific and public review, and are supported by a robust body of evidence in the record for this proceeding and beyond. The TAC Evaluation and the Scientific Review Panel unequivocally conclude that chlorpyrifos should be listed as a TAC, and we agree. 

II.            DPR should immediately cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations.

In addition, the urgent, widespread public health threats identified in the TAC Evaluation must be addressed immediately by cancelling all chlorpyrifos registrations. The Food and Agricultural Code identifies nine conditions that may warrant cancellation of a pesticide registration. Based on information from the TAC Evaluation, at least four of these conditions support cancellation for chlorpyrifos:  

a.     Chlorpyrifos has numerous “demonstrated serious uncontrollable adverse effects.”

b.     Even when used properly, chlorpyrifos is “detrimental … to the public health and safety.”

c.     Chlorpyrifos causes greater detriment to the environment than the benefit received.

d.     There are alternatives to chlorpyrifos that are less destructive to the environment.

Specifically, the TAC Evaluation characterized numerous ongoing adverse impacts of chlorpyrifos use on the environment and bystanders, including vulnerable populations (infants, children, and women of childbearing age):  

  • Air: Aerial and ground boom application of chlorpyrifos result in unacceptable risk for infants at all distances modeled—up to a half mile (2,608 feet) away from the field.

  • Food: Current use patterns resulted in unacceptable risk from dietary exposure for all vulnerable populations evaluated.

  • Drinking Water: Current use patterns resulted in unacceptable risk from dietary exposure for all vulnerable populations evaluated.

  • Aggregate: Combined exposures from current use patterns result in unacceptable risk for all vulnerable populations evaluated. 

DPR is charged with ending the use of dangerous pesticides in the state, on an ongoing basis. Chlorpyrifos is demonstrably dangerous to young Californians, so its use must end.  

III.          DPR should suspend registrations for chlorpyrifos without delay because continued use poses an immediate threat.

Immediate suspension of chlorpyrifos registrations is necessary to protect the health of Californians during cancellation proceedings. The Director should suspend a pesticide registration if he has any “reason to believe” that (1) any one of the nine conditions warranting cancellation applies, and (2) continued use of the pesticide poses an “immediate substantial danger.” As outlined above, at least four conditions justify cancellation of chlorpyrifos registrations. And the same adverse impacts identified in the TAC Evaluation that make cancellation necessary also pose “immediate substantial dangers” that cannot be allowed to continue during the time-consuming TAC and cancellation proceedings.


Infants near fields sprayed with chlorpyrifos bear an unacceptable risk of brain impairment from current uses of chlorpyrifos. Our farming communities, some of whom already feel the health consequences from other contaminants to their air, water, and food, suffer disproportionately from the impacts of chlorpyrifos on their youngest members. And pregnant women, infants, and children may face additional health risks every time they eat or drink in the state. These are substantial dangers that require an urgent solution.


In conclusion, DPR’s risk analysis correctly concluded that current use patterns result in exposures that exceed the acceptable risk level for infants, children, and women of childbearing age. Accordingly, we urge DPR to list chlorpyrifos as a TAC and immediately suspend and initiate cancellation for all products containing chlorpyrifos.




Sarah Aird & Mark Weller, Co-Directors

Californians for Pesticide Reform


Paulina Torres, Staff Attorney

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment


Allison Johnson, J.D., Sustainable Food Policy Advocate

Natural Resources Defense Council


Anne Katten, Director, Pesticide & Worker Safety Project

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation



Governor Jerry Brown

Brian Leahy, Director, DPR

Matthew Rodriquez, CalEPA


Department of Pesticide Regulation, Final Toxic Air Contaminant Evaluation of Chlorpyrifos (July 2018) (“TAC
Evaluation”) at 3.
Findings of the Scientific Review Panel on the Proposed Identification of Chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant
as adopted at the Panel’s July 30, 2018 Meeting (“SRP Findings”).
Department of Pesticide Regulation: Toxic Air Contaminant Program,
(last accessed Oct. 23, 2018).
Food & Agr. Code § 14023(e).
DPR, Chlorpyrifos Update (Sept. 21, 2018),
available at
Notice of Proposed Regulatory Action, DPR Regulation No. 18-002 at 2.
Food & Agr. Code § 14021(b).
3 CCR § 6864; DPR, Director’s Proposed Determination Concerning Chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant
(Aug. 24, 2018).
SRP Findings.
SRP Findings.
SRP Findings; Food & Agr. Code § 14023(b) (“The panel shall review, as appropriate, the scientific data on
which the report is based, the scientific procedures and methods used to support the data, and the conclusions and
assessments on which the report is based.”);
see also
Hertz-Picciotto et al., Organophosphate exposures during
pregnancy and child neurodevelopment: Recommendations for essential policy reforms, PLoS Med 15(10) (Oct. 24,
available at
; U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Revised Human Health Risk Assessment for Registration Review (Nov. 3, 2016),
available at
Food & Agr. Code § 12825.
Food & Agr. Code § 12825(a), (b), (c), (d).
U.S. EPA issued a memorandum of its Analysis of the Small Business Impacts of Revoking Chlorpyrifos Food
Tolerances and found that of the small farms affected by revoking chlorpyrifos food tolerances, most will face minor
economic impacts, defined as less than one percent of gross revenue, because reasonably priced alternatives are
available for the pests targeted by chlorpyrifos.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2015. Memorandum:
Analysis of the Small Business Impacts of Revoking Chlorpyrifos Food Tolerances,
available at
Data suggests that alternatives to chlorpyrifos are readily available: in 2010, for the leading uses of the pesticide
on almonds, alfalfa, walnuts, oranges, cotton, grapes, and broccoli, over half of all growers of each crop were not
using chlorpyrifos. California’s
Pesticide Use Reporting Program,
available at