EPA: Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Poses Potential Risks to Some Workers

EPA has released a revised human health risk assessment of the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos, which the agency says shows some risks to workers who mix, load, and apply chlorpyrifos products to agricultural and other non-residential sites. EPA also notes concern for those who work around areas that are treated with the pesticide, even if they are not using chlorpyrifos as part of their own jobs. According to EPA, when used in large amounts, the pesticide could pose risks in limited geographic areas where drinking water comes from small watersheds. In its press release, the agency states that additional restrictions may be necessary to protect drinking water sources and ensure worker protection in areas treated with the pesticide. However, EPA found no additional risks from pesticide exposures to workers and bystanders from airborne chlorpyrifos. 

At high enough doses, chlorpyrifos can impact the nervous system and cause nausea, dizziness, and confusion, according to EPA. The agency states that very high exposures can cause respiratory paralysis and death.
The revised document updates the agency’s preliminary human health risk assessment from June 2011, and incorporates considerations such as exposures from multiple sources, including exposures from food and water and inhalation and dermal exposures. The revision also includes information from a 2012 assessment of spray drift exposure.
EPA’s revised risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, a fact sheet on the pesticide, and additional information are available on the EPA website. The public comment period on the risk assessment is open through March 16, 2015.

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