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EPA fast-tracks restrictions on 4 organophosphate pesticides

Agency seeks to reduce spray drift to protect health of farmworkers and bystanders

by Britt E. Erickson
March 20, 2023

Chemical structure of diazinon.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is taking immediate steps to reduce exposures to four organophosphate pesticides instead of waiting until 2025–26, when it is scheduled to complete its review of the chemicals. The four pesticides—diazinon, ethoprop, tribufos, and phosmet—pose serious health risks to farmworkers and agricultural communities exposed to spray drift, the agency announced March 15.

The EPA is working with companies that make the four organophosphates to reduce the risks. The agency is asking the firms to agree to mitigation measures and expedite label changes. The measures being considered include prohibiting certain uses and application methods; increasing personal protective equipment for workers who handle the pesticides; requiring buffers between sprayed fields and homes, schools, and day-care centers; and restricting when workers can reenter sprayed fields.

“While we know there’s still a lot of work to finish our review of these pesticides, today’s announcement helps deliver on our promise to protect farmworkers and uphold our commitment to environmental justice,” Michal Freedhoff, head of the EPA’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention, says in a statement.

Environmental groups say farmworker protections against organophosphate pesticides are long overdue. “Studies show that organophosphates indefensibly poison workers and cause learning disabilities in children,” Patti Goldman, attorney at Earthjustice, says in a statement. “Pesticide companies must act immediately to protect workers from the egregious harms from organophosphates, and EPA must take action to protect workers, their families, our food, and our drinking water from this entire class of pesticides.”



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