Chlorpyrifos Litigation: Seeking Justice for Pesticide Harm
Chlorpyrifos (pronounced klor-pir-uh-faas) is a widely used chemical pesticide that research has shown can cause permanent, irreversible damage to children’s brains. Scientific evidence over the past twenty years has shown that children exposed to the chemical are more likely to be diagnosed with birth defects, developmental delays, and neurological problems.
Before its recent ban for use on food products by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chlorpyrifos was the most widely used pesticide in the world. A 2008 study found that more than 91% of children tested had detectable levels of the compound in their bodies.
Wallace Miller is representing clients against the manufacturers of chlorpyrifos. We are committed to helping families impacted by this toxic chemical fight for justice. If you believe that you or a loved one was impacted as a child by exposure to the pesticide, reach out to Wallace Miller today for a free and confidential consultation. Give us a call at 312-261-6193 or fill out our online questionnaire to learn more about your potential case.
What is chlorpyrifos?
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate pesticide, part of a group of chemicals widely used for plant and pest control. Organophosphates are also the main components of nerve gas and part of a family of nerve agents developed by Nazi scientists during World War II.
Dow Chemical initially registered chlorpyrifos with the EPA in 1965 and patented the compound in 1966. Its use has been widespread in agricultural and non-agricultural applications throughout the late 1900s and early 2000s.
How does chlorpyrifos act in the body?
The chlorpyrifos compound is not initially toxic to humans. However, as the body tries to break down the substance, it creates a toxin called chlorpyrifos oxon.
The oxon then binds to the enzymes that control messages sent between nerve cells. When the toxin binds to too many enzymes, it prevents the nerve cells from sending messages. As a result, nerves and muscles stop functioning correctly.
This nerve-disrupting mechanism effectively kills pests exposed to the toxin by causing nervous system malfunction. However, the insecticide is also toxic to many birds, fish, and animal invertebrates, as well as bees and earthworms. The same process has been shown to be dangerous to humans, especially over long periods of exposure.
What is chlorpyrifos used for?
Chlorpyrifos has been used to control many types of insects, including fleas, cockroaches, and crop pests. As of 2017, it was widely sprayed on food crops including corn, soy, vegetables like broccoli and bell peppers, and fruit and nut trees.
In addition to widespread use in agriculture, it has been used to treat wooden fence posts and utility poles, on golf courses, and to control household pests. In 2000, increased scientific evidence for the toxicity of the pesticide led to a ban on in-home use, with the exception of ant and roach bait traps.
Since 2022, the insecticide chlorpyrifos is no longer permitted for use on crops intended for human or animal consumption in the U.S.
Who are the manufacturers of chlorpyrifos?
Up until recently, the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos in the world was Corteva Agriscience, the agricultural division of the 2017 merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont. Corteva produced the Lorsban, Dursban, and Cobalt pesticide brands; other frequently used brands including Eraser, Govern, Hatchet, and Whirlwind are Dow’s registered trademarks but distributed by other companies.
In 2020, Corteva announced their decision to halt production of chlorpyrifos. The company maintains the product is safe and claimed that the only factor driving their decision was declining sales.
Other manufacturers that produce chlorpyrifos pesticides include ADAMA, Cheminova (recently acquired by FMC Corporation), Gharda Chemicals, Platte Chemical Company, Loveland Products, WinField United, Quali-Pro, and Drexel Chemical.
Chlorpyrifos birth defect lawsuits
Lawsuits against the manufacturers of chlorpyrifos pesticides, including Dow Chemical and Corteva Inc., continue to gain traction across the country. Dozens of chlorpyrifos lawsuits have already been filed in the state of California, with more on the way.
The EPA’s decision to restrict the substance in 2022 has contributed significantly to the increase in lawsuits. Widespread protests, especially in California—the nation’s largest chlorpyrifos consumer—have also attracted national attention.
Am I eligible for a chlorpyrifos lawsuit?
Because chlorpyrifos has been in use since the 1960s, exposure to the toxic pesticide may go back decades. You may be eligible for a pesticide lawsuit if:
- You live or work on a farm where chlorpyrifos was used.
- You live or lived near an area where chlorpyrifos was used.
- You have a child who may have been exposed during pregnancy and up to age 5.
- You were exposed as a young or unborn child.
- You, your child, or a loved one has been diagnosed with developmental problems, attention disorders, or other health conditions that may be related to chemical exposure.
Cases like the chlorpyrifos pesticide lawsuits are complicated. Our team of lawyers has more than 75 years of collective experience in chemical exposure and personal injury cases, and we are committed to helping you fight for justice and achieve financial compensation.
Pesticide companies like Corteva and Dow Chemical have exposed countless individuals, including pregnant women and unborn children, to these dangerous chemicals. If you live in an area where chlorpyrifos may have been used and believe you, a loved one, or a child has been harmed, reach out to us today at 312-261-6193 or fill out our online questionnaire for an assessment of your case in minutes.
Who can be exposed to chlorpyrifos?
There are many ways that individuals can come into contact with chlorpyrifos. These include:
- Applying chlorpyrifos products as part of your job.
- Applying chlorpyrifos products in your garden.
- Absorption by unborn babies whose mothers were exposed to it during pregnancy.
- Exposure to water contaminated by runoff or products used nearby.
- Eating food contaminated with chlorpyrifos.
Children are generally more sensitive to pesticides than adults and chlorpyrifos is no exception—exposure to the chemical has been shown to be particularly dangerous to young children and babies in utero. The chemical has been linked to brain damage and changes in development and social behavior, and studies have shown that children with the compound in their blood have higher rates of developmental disorders and delays than those who do not.
Chlorpyrifos exposure risks
Acute exposure to chlorpyrifos—or exposure over a short amount of time—can be harmful if the chemical is inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with the skin. Current labels require workers using these pesticides to wear additional personal protective equipment, including chemical resistant gloves, respirators, and coveralls.
Exposure to small amounts of chlorpyrifos can result in headaches, nausea, dizziness, a runny nose, drooling, and sweating, while serious exposure can lead to vomiting, cramps, tremors, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. In cases of severe poisoning, individuals may suffer from convulsions, unconsciousness, loss of bladder or bowel control, difficulty breathing, paralysis, and even death.
Neurological injuries caused by chlorpyrifos
While the effects of acute chlorpyrifos exposure can be deadly, they can be mitigated by the use of personal protective equipment. The long-term effects of exposure are less immediately obvious but can have severe and permanent impacts on individuals’ health.
Exposure in early life—particularly before the age of 2 and in utero—has been shown to be associated with changes in brain development and social behavior, higher rates of learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, and respiratory problems.
A study from Columbia University followed two groups of children—one born before the ban on in-home use of chlorpyrifos in 2000, and one born afterwards. Those born before the ban had higher levels of exposure to the chemical and tended to be smaller, weigh less, and have slower reflexes. They demonstrated delays in motor and mental development by the age of three and were more than five times more likely than children born after 2000 to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This group was also more than six times more likely to demonstrate symptoms of ADHD and eleven times more likely to demonstrate other attention disorders.
Other studies have found that those living in agricultural communities are at increased risk of chlorpyrifos exposure through their proximity to crops sprayed with the chemical. A study of mothers and children living in the Salinas Valley of California, which is largely agricultural, found that children living within a kilometer of farm fields that used neurotoxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos had lower IQs and reduced verbal comprehension.
Chlorpyrifos poses a higher risk to agricultural workers and those who live in agricultural areas, many of whom are Latino. As a result, the effect of the pesticide is particularly significant on the Latino community. In California, Latino children are 91% more likely than white children to attend schools near areas of heavy pesticide use.
Timeline of EPA actions on chlorpyrifos
Despite consistent research on the harmful effects of chlorpyrifos on unborn children, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only banned the product for use on food crops in 2022. The decision follows decades of controversy and pushback from the organization, much of it influenced by chemical industry lobbying groups.
2000: Companies with registered chlorpyrifos products worked with the EPA to voluntarily modify the uses of the chemical. This included eliminating most in-home uses (except for insect bait traps) and discontinuing its use on tomatoes.
2002: The EPA made changes to the required labeling of chlorpyrifos products in order to mitigate environmental effects. They also increased the amount of personal protective equipment required to spray the product.
2007: The Pesticide Action Network of North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition with the EPA, asking the agency to revoke all product registrations and ban chlorpyrifos.
2011: The EPA published a preliminary human health risk assessment including the findings of new studies.
2012: The EPA created “no-spray” buffer zones around public areas in which chlorpyrifos was used in order to protect children and bystanders.
2014: The EPA published a Revised Human Health Risk Assessment, including new information on the dangers of chlorpyrifos and exposure via inhalation and through the skin.
2015: The EPA officially proposed a revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances (the amount considered to be safe in consumer products). The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the agency to finalize a rule banning its use, which was planned to go into effect by March 2017.
2016: The EPA published a Revised Human Health Risk Assessment finding that all uses of chlorpyrifos are unsafe. The assessment found that the chemical had harmful effects on the brain development of children and that toddlers were being exposed at levels more than 100 times higher than the agency’s current safety tolerance.
April 2017: Due likely to an administration change, the EPA reversed course and denied the petition to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances and cancel product registrations. This decision was made shortly after then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with the CEO of Dow Chemical. The decision was challenged by environmental and farmworkers’ groups.
September 2020: The EPA published a Draft Ecological Risk Assessment and Revised Human Health Risk Assessment describing chlorpyrifos’ ecological risks. The assessment stated that the science around the chemical’s neurological and developmental effects were unresolved and called for more evaluation.
April 2021: Environmental groups and several states challenged the EPA’s 2017 denial in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Court ruled that the EPA’s decision had been arbitrary and capricious and ordered the EPA to grant the petition, issue a final rule revoking or modifying chlorpyrifos tolerances, and modify or cancel its registrations for food use. They also condemned the EPA’s delay in enacting regulations, writing: “Rather than ban the pesticide or reduce the tolerances to levels that the EPA could find were reasonably certain to cause no harm, the EPA sought to evade through delay tactics its plain statutory duty.”
August 2021: The EPA published its final ruling on chlorpyrifos, finding that “it could not determine that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from aggregate exposure.” It revoked all tolerances for the chemical on food, meaning that if a food product is exposed to any amount of chlorpyrifos it qualifies as “adulterated” and its distribution is illegal. While this complied with the order from the Ninth Circuit, it did not affect agricultural and non-food uses of chlorpyrifos.
2022: The EPA released a response denying objections, requests for a hearing, and stay requests filed against its final rule.
Filing a chlorpyrifos lawsuit with Wallace Miller
The legal team at Wallace Miller is proud to represent plaintiffs in mass tort litigations across the U.S. Our law firm is focused on protecting the victims of negligence and fraud through consumer protection, product liability, employment, environmental and toxic damage, and personal injury litigation.
We know that there are many choices available to you when looking for a lawyer to represent you in cases like the chlorpyrifos pesticide lawsuits. What sets us apart from other firms is our commitment to our clients, our ability to handle complex high-stakes litigation, and our outstanding track record of success. We only take on cases that our firm has faith in—those that can make a difference in our clients’ lives.
Questions about your potential chlorpyrifos lawsuit? Call our office at 312-261-6193 or fill out our online questionnaire for a confidential and free consultation in minutes.