Californians for Pesticide Reform 
February 2016   
Pesticide Reform News and Action

Recent News from the CPR Coalition 

In This Issue
UCLA study: pesticides in combination linked to increased cancer risk
Demand action: Write to your local paper
Chlorpyrifos in kids' hair, French TV report finds
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Pesticides commonly used near schools linked to increased cancer risk when used together, UCLA study reveals  

Dr. Ann Lopez addresses the media in Watsonville

Three hazardous fumigant pesticides commonly used near schools may lead to increased cancer risk when used in combination. In real life, these pesticides are often applied as a mixture or one right after another. And unlike the FDA, which considers and regulates drug interactions, the Department of Pesticide Regulation does not account for the combined effect of exposure to multiple pesticides.


These alarming findings from UCLA's Sustainable Technology & Policy Program, which were released February 17, galvanized our coalition members across the state to call for greater protections for schoolchildren from exposure to hazardous agricultural pesticides. 


In a series of press conferences held in Kern, Fresno, Santa Cruz, Riverside and Ventura Counties, community members, parents, teachers and children's health advocates highlighted the report's findings and urged DPR to act swiftly to require a one-mile buffer zone around schools and to begin regulating pesticide use in the combinations that are used in real life.


The UCLA study examined the fumigants Telone, chloropicrin and metam salts - 3 of the 4 most commonly used pesticides near schools - and found that when any two of these pesticides are used together, they interact to increase cancer risk by more than just their sum. This can happen when one fumigant attacks the body's detoxification mechanisms, leaving it more vulnerable to harm from another. 


The study focused on increase to cancer risk from just these three fumigants, but points out that other health harms, and interactive effects from other pesticides, are also likely. 

Under California law, DPR is required to consider real-life cumulative exposure. This study makes clear that DPR's failure to do so greatly underestimates the harm to California's most vulnerable residents, including half a million schoolchildren.



Help us spread the word!


Please help us make sure that the findings of this important new study from UCLA reach as many people as possible. Letters to the editor of your local paper are a great way to put the decision-makers on notice that people are paying attention.


Cut and paste this template or write your own -  and let us know if you are published by emailing us at


"A recently published study from UCLA reveals that pesticides may interact to increase cancer risk by more than just their sum. The study looked at three fumigant pesticides that are among the most commonly used right next door to schools. It is time for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to start considering the increased risk posed by pesticides that are commonly used together, and to implement a one-mile buffer zone around schools - to make sure that these hazardous chemicals are never used near our kids." - [your name, your address].

Brain-harming chlorpyrifos and more than 49 other pesticides found in California kids' hair

Collecting hair samples in Cutler-Orosi

Following a two-hour special that aired on French television earlier this month and was  posted online , mothers and health professionals are pressing officials in California and Hawaii to ban the neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, after the pesticide was found in hair samples of every child tested.  

For the television special, produced by Martin Boudot for France 2, the French national tv station, researchers took hair samples from children in Cutler-Orosi, an unincorporated community in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley, and in a community in Hawaii. 

In California, each of the six children tested had at least 50 different pesticides in their body.   

The report highlights research linking chlorpyrifos to falling IQs, autism and ADHD in children and includes interviews with researchers like Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a specialist at the UC Davis MIND Institute.  

"It surprises me that someone from another country had to come to learn more about the use of certain pesticides that are dangerous to my family's health. In fact, the hair samples taken by the reporter found that my child has been exposed to multiple pesticides. It puts things in perspective as to where state priorities are. Department of Pesticide Regulation officials need to act swiftly to ban the chemical," said Claudia Angulo, the San Joaquin Valley parent of a child in the study.   

Hair testing is an affordable and robust method for testing exposures. Levels of exposure can't be directly linked to health effects without additional information, but they do raise concerns around potential impacts.   

"Evidence of the neurotoxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, was found in children's bodies, as well as breakdown products that generally tell us that these children were exposed to other types of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides. The results show that these children were exposed to a cocktail of pesticides, and the consequences of exposure to such mixtures over a lifetime are not known, nor is the issue of exposure to such mixtures currently evaluated by our regulatory agencies," said Emily Marquez, an endocrinologist and staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network.
Many of the pesticides found in the children's hair are still allowed for use in California but are banned in France. According to the California Department of Public Health, chlorpyrifos is one of the top ten most widely used pesticides within a quarter mile of California schools. 
Federal officials have indicated they are moving to ban the brain-harming chemical, already banned for home use since 2000. Californians for Pesticide Reform is maintaining pressure to make sure this proposed ban withstands strenuous opposition from the main manufacturer Dow. CPR continues to push the state of California to support farmers' transition to more sustainable practices that don't rely on highly hazardous pesticides. 

This article was adapted from Pesticide Action Network