Frustration at DPR's Interagency Committee Meeting on Chlorpyrifos 

DPR's Interim Mitigations for Chlorpyrifos Aren't Good Enough

OEHHA Mulls Prop 65 Status for Chlorpyrifos

 Meet Adam Vega: CPR's New Organizer in Ventura

Community Frustration Boils Over at DPR Committee Hearing on Chlorpyrifos
Lack of Regard for Community Input Points to Urgent Need for Environmental Justice Position at Department
Tulare County organizer Angel Garcia leads a rally following September's PREC meeting in Sacramento. Photo Credit: Joan Cusick

Six months after the chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt refused to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, known to cause permanent brain damage in children, California officials have taken a page out of the Trump Administration's playbook and ordered yet more studies of the chemical - even though decades of independent study show harm to children.

Frustrated residents of agricultural communities packed a Sacramento hearing room September 15 to urge the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to order an immediate suspension of chlorpyrifos while the state's potentially lengthy scientific review takes place.

Although the meeting of DPR's interagency Pesticide Registration Evaluation Committee was billed as an opportunity for public input, the highly technical hearing was conducted entirely in English with no interpretation offered for the dozens of Spanish-speaking residents from agriculture's frontlines who had traveled more than four hours to attend. After DPR presented their revised draft risk assessment to the committee, residents who lined up to comment and ask questions were mostly rebuffed and ignored, and admonished that this was not the correct forum to be making comments. No other opportunity for oral comment was offered. 

Randy Segawa, DPR's Special Advisor, blithely reassured the crowd that then still-secret interim mitigations would soon be announced that should be sufficient to provide adequate protection from harmful exposures. 

CPR's Director of Development & Communications Jane Sellen asked Segawa why DPR had failed to consider the US EPA's finding of developmental neurotoxicity at vanishingly low doses. "The concern of the people in this room is that your idea of what an acceptable level [of chlorpyrifos] is, is so radically different than what  EPA 's 2016 assessment found, by a factor of 30,000," Sellen said. "People have some concerns that you might not mitigate to a level that we would consider health protective."

Those concerns turned out to be well-founded when the mitigations were cynically unveiled the day after the comment period ended, and fell far short of the promised protections (see next story.) 

The PREC meeting, and the tremendous frustration of residents in attendance, was just the latest example of DPR's structural failure to include community perspective in their decision-making, pointing to the urgent need for agency reform so that environmental justice considerations are prioritized. 

DPR Announces Weak Interim Mitigations for Chlorpyrifos
New voluntary permit conditions provide minimal buffers, little exposure relief

Photo credit: Joan Cusick

On Tuesday, officials at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) issued  recommended Interim Mitigations  for chlorpyrifos to the state's County Agricultural Commissioners. The mitigations, which are intended to reduce acute exposure to chlorpyrifos while DPR's revised draft risk assessment for chlorpyrifos undergoes scientific review, were cynically unveiled the day after the public comment period ended, leaving residents no opportunity to weigh in on how DPR plans to handle this brain-harming pesticide for the year or more it takes to complete their review. For thousands of babies and young children in California, that will be too late.

The interim permit conditions fall far short of offering the necessary protections from neurodevelopmental harms for California's most vulnerable communities, including young children and pregnant women. They represent a stark betrayal of the commitment made in August by the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency to the health and safety of all Californians.

Specifically, the setbacks established by the recommendation are not sufficient to protect neighbors and workers from drift exposure. While a ir monitoring study results show that chlorpyrifos continues to evaporate or volatilize for several days, the proposed setbacks apply for only one hour after applications are completed. Furthermore, the permit conditions fail to limit both the size of individual applications and the number of airblast sprayers or aircraft that can be involved in a single application. Recent incidents of documented chlorpyrifos drift in Kern and Madera counties involved large acreages with multiple airblast sprayers or aircraft applying chlorpyrifos at the same time.

The fact remains that US EPA scientists last November found all current uses of chlorpyrifos on food-related crops put children at risk due to unsafe levels in our food, air, water, and workplaces. Like the Trump Administration, the DPR continues to ignore the top government scientists in the land and continues to put our communities at risk.

Nothing short of a total suspension of use will suffice to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable populations.

ACTION ALERT: OEHHA Mulls Prop. 65 Status for Chlorpyrifos
Public Comment Period Ends October 16

Photo credit: Joan Cusick

The next opportunity for the state to deal decisively with the chlorpyrifos problem is just around the corner - CalEPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has scheduled a hearing in November to decide whether to add chlorpyrifos to the Prop. 65 list of toxic chemicals, based on its reproductive and developmental toxicity. 

Make your voice heard!
We'd like OEHHA to know that chlorpyrifos is a serious health concern for California communities. 

You can submit comments by  5pm on Monday October 16  here , or by mail to  Michelle Ramirez,  Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
P.O. Box 4010, MS-12B
Sacramento, California 95812-4010.

You can also  attend OEHHA's public hearing on Wednesday, November 29 from 10am to 5pm at Cal EPA, 1001 I Street, Sacramento.

Meet Adam Vega: CPR's Organizer for Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties
Lifelong Ventura County Resident Brings CPR's Organizing Cohort to Four
Photo Credit: Joan Cusick

We're delighted to welcome Ventura County native Adam Vega to CPR's family of pesticide organizers! Adam joins us as part of a year-long residential internship program hosted by The Abundant Table. He'll work with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) as part of their local organizing efforts in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Adam will join CPR's three other organizers based in Kern, Tulare and Monterey/Santa Cruz in efforts to build a local pesticide reform movement and connect it to CPR's statewide work.

Even without a local organizer dedicated to pesticides, momentum in the southern Central Coast has been building organically over the past year, with dozens of area residents attending DPR's hearing on the new schools regulation in Oxnard last fall. We plan to catalyze that momentum to build an enduring local movement through our unique partnership with The Abundant Table and CAUSE, and with the generous support of local funders The McCune Foundation and The Fund for Santa Barbara.

Adam holds a BA in political science from CSU Channel Islands. Among his volunteer activities, he has worked with CAUSE to increase political engagement among Ventura County youth. He's  also worked in regenerative agriculture/permaculture, solar technologies, rainwater harvesting, and promotion of Community Supported Agriculture.

"Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are a beautiful part of the state where an abundance of food is grown that nourishes the world," comments Adam. "Such a service comes at an ugly cost, paid by our children, brothers, sisters, parents and friends who live and work here. United, we will lead the charge and create the change necessary to make this a healthier and more sustainable home for generations to come."