Worker health and wellness

Pesticide chlorpyrifos poses risks to workers: EPA

Washington – Workers who mix, load and apply pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos are potentially exposed to health risks, according to an assessment from the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a Jan. 5 announcement, the agency said it will take measures to diminish the risks, and stated that additional restrictions might be needed to protect workers who use chlorpyrifos or work in areas treated with the pesticide.

EPA stated that potential health risks exist in drinking water found in small watersheds in certain areas when the pesticide is used in large amounts. However, no additional risk was found in food or from airborne chlorpyrifos exposure. Additionally, the pesticide was found in less than 1 percent of food samples, according to Department of Agriculture data.

Chlorpyrifos exposure can affect the nervous system, resulting in nausea, dizziness, confusion, respiratory paralysis and death, according to EPA.

The agency banned household use of chlorpyrifos, except for ant and roach bait in child-resistant packages, in 2000. The agency also canceled the use of the pesticide on tomatoes, and restricted use on crops such as apples, citrus and tree nets from 2000 to 2002. EPA implemented “no-spray” zones around public areas, including recreational areas and homes, and lowered pesticide application rates in 2012.