OAKLAND, California, November 4, 2022—Public Health and Conservation Groups Today I call on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to reassess the approval of the herbicide paraquat and ban its use in the state.
“The only way to stop this dangerous herbicide from continuing to poison our environment and farming communities is to ban it,” said Jonathan Evans, legal director of environmental health for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We cannot continue to ignore paraquat’s proven role in causing needless deaths and its links to devastating health conditions such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease.”
Groups letter calling for California to ban paraquat comes after a 2021 lawsuit defying the Environmental Protection Agency’s reapproval of the pesticide’s use nationwide. The lawsuit prompted the EPA to tell the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in September that the EPA necessary to reevaluate safety and risks of paraquat. a public comment period that’s part of California’s annual pesticide renewal process that ends this week.
Despite the well-documented risks of paraquat, California used more than 1.3 million pounds in 2018 alone. Paraquat use is heavily concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley, with more than three-quarters of the total used in only eight San Joaquin Valley counties. Paraquat is one of the state’s five most used herbicides.
“The research is clear that paraquat poses a serious risk to human health. There is a huge disparity in who is most at risk of exposure, with use overwhelmingly concentrated in the predominantly Latino farming communities of the San Joaquin Valley,” said Jane Sellen, co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform. “Our state government must follow the science and act to protect the health of Californians, especially in farmworker communities.”
Ingesting or inhaling paraquat, or exposing it to the skin, can cause a variety of health risks, other than death, including cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, and scarring of the lungs. Farmworkers and farming communities are at increased risk of inhaling paraquat because the herbicide can volatilize or spread in dust blown into fields and neighborhoods.
Paraquat has been related to Parkinson’s disease, a devastating neurological condition with no known cure. The researchers found that Paraquat Exposure in California Farming Communities leads to increased risks of Parkinson’s and thyroid cancer.
“The Michael J. Fox Foundation has a single, urgent goal: to eliminate Parkinson’s disease within our lifetimes,” said Ted Thompson, JD, senior vice president for public policy at the Michael J. Fox Foundation. “As a science-based organization , our research partners have reviewed extensive and compelling evidence showing paraquat’s association with neurological degradation and symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. We believe that regulators in the state of California, the federal government and the EPA should use every tool at their disposal to eliminate this risk.”
Pesticide manufacturers know on the association of paraquat with Parkinson’s disease for years. But they have worked to refute research showing that link and aggressively lobbied regulators to refrain from taking larger steps to protect the public from those risks.
Paraquat manufacturers are facing a growing number of personal injury lawsuits related to its use and long-term impacts on human health. The pesticide also mortal to wildlife, including many of California’s most endangered species, such as San Joaquin kit foxes and Swainson’s hawks.
2021 demand challenging The EPA’s reapproval of paraquat, brought forward by farmworker groups, environmentalists, and health organizations, represented by Earthjustice, is underway.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places.
Californians for Pesticide Reform is a statewide coalition of more than 190 organizations to protect public health, improve environmental quality, and expand a fair and sustainable agricultural system by building a diverse movement in California to change pesticide policies and practices nationwide. state and local.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through a heavily funded research agenda and ensuring the development of improved therapies for people living with Parkinson’s disease today.