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September 03, 2021 3 min read

EPA bans pesticide linked to health issues...

On the 18th of August 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an end to the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on food products nationwide. It's taken 14 long years of protests and pressure from environmental and labour groups to achieve this result. Your voice matters!

What is Chlorpyrifos?

An inexpensive and effective pesticide used to kill insects by blocking an enzyme, causing insects to convulse and die. This toxic pesticide has been on the market since 1965. Yikes! 

Chlorpyrifos was used in homes as pest control until 2000. This method was stopped because residue in homes put crawling children at high risk of poisoning.

Over 75% of people in the U.S. still have traces of chlorpyrifos in their bodies, mostly due to residue on food! Higher traces were associated with farmworkers and nearby residents.

According to the EPA, 5.1 million pounds of this pesky pesticide was used each year between 2014-2018...

It's applied to a wide range of crops including, corn, soybeans, broccoli, cauliflower, some fruits, nut trees and cotton.

How does it impact health?

To summarise, it's linked to potential neurodevelopment issues and impaired brain function in children. Here are some studies to back this up:

  • Fetal development: A 2003 study found that higher levels of Chlorpyrifos metabolite (a substance produced when the body breaks down the pesticide) found in umbilical cords linked to smaller infant birth weight and size.
  • Infant Development: Studies from 2006 to 2014 showed that the infants mentioned above experienced developmental delays in childhood. They also saw differences in MRI scans of their brains.

I know what you're thinking, why did it take 14 years to make this decision!? You can read more on that here.

This move will better protect the health of humans, especially children and farmworkers. 

Where does Australia stand with chlorpyrifos?

In 2001-02 the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) stopped selling products with a high chlorpyrifos concentration for home garden and domestic use. However, products with lower doses were still allowed!

They divided the further review of chlorpyrifos use into two stages:

1. Domestic and home garden use (lower concentrations)

2. Agriculture and other non-domestic use

In June 2019, the APVMA published the review of stage one. The decision was to suspend all domestic and home garden uses of chlorpyrifos products due to hundreds of studies looking at the impact of the product.

They are planning to release a decision on stage two in mid-2022.

Today Chlorpyrifos products can continue to be used in agricultural (farming) settings and under permit if used according to label instructions.

So Australia is VERY late to the party on this one. However, we hope that the United States recent decision will encourage faster action for the health of Aussie children and farmers! See below on how you can avoid produce that is grown using pesticides.

How can we avoid pesticides?!

According to the EWG's analysis of the latest test data from the federal Department of Agriculture, nearly 70% of the non-organic fresh produce contains residues of pesticides. 

1. Shop organic or spray-free. Local farms and co-ops offer subscription boxes that deliver fresh spray-free and seasonal produce to your door each week. Our go-to is Good Harvest on the Sunshine Coast.

2. Wash your fruit and veg. We understand that organic isn't always accessible to people, so we recommend soaking your fruit and veg in water and apple cider vinegar before consumption. Check out how we do this in the video below:


3. Research which produce contains the highest amount of pesticides. The legends at the EWG have developed a list of the 12 dirtiest and the 12 cleanest fruit and veg you can buy. Check it out here.

Send to your food-loving bestie who would love to know this! 

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