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Hawai'i CFS

Farmworker and Public Health Groups Demand EPA Immediately Stop Use of Extremely Dangerous Pesticide DCPA

EPA previously detailed risks to human health from the pesticide used on food crops in California and other states, warned of risk to farmworkers

May 14, 2024
Center for Food Safety

WASHINGTON - Today, nine organizations that represent farmworkers, public health officials, scientists, and consumers demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take immediate action to stop the sale and use of DCPA or Dacthal, a toxic pesticide with serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks, especially to pregnant people and their developing babies.

"Farmworker women and girls bear the heavy and dangerous burden of pesticide exposure every day. Not only are they the primary caretakers of their families, but they also ensure families around the country have food on their tables," said Mily Trevino-Sauceda, Executive Director of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. "Their health, along with the health of their unborn children and their family members, hang in the balance. EPA, it's time to act. Suspend DCPA now, protect the health of farmworker women."

In May 2023, EPA released an occupational and residential health assessment of DCPA earlier than planned, due to the startling findings of unmitigated harm to pesticide handlers, those that enter fields to tend crops, and those that live nearby DCPA spraying. EPA even took the rare action of issuing a warning due to the grave risks found in that initial human health assessment. Data from animal studies shows DCPA has adverse effects to developing fetuses, even in very low doses that would not affect the pregnant animal. Fetal thyroid disruptions in humans are linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills in life. This means that a pregnant person could be exposed to DCPA without experiencing any effects, while causing significant and lifelong harm to a developing fetus. DCPA is also classified as a possible human carcinogen and likely has significant adverse effects on wildlife as well as human health.

"Because the danger is so great, we urge the agency to issue an emergency suspension order as soon as possible to stop further sale and use of DCPA to protect vulnerable populations from the certain harm that additional DCPA use would cause," said William Jordan, Environmental Protection Network volunteer and former Deputy Director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs. The Office of Pesticide Programs is the EPA office responsible for reviewing and registering pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

The manufacturer of Dacthal, AMVAC, is desperately trying to hold onto its license for this dangerous product, but EPA has rejected its proposed mitigation measures as not enough to protect people from harm.

Amy van Saun, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety said: "Given EPA's duty to protect the public from pesticides that do not meet the federal safety standard, we demand that EPA use its emergency powers to immediately suspend the registration of DCPA, issue an order stopping its use this growing season to protect people from any further risk, and initiate cancelation proceedings to ensure it is not used going forward."

Organizations include:

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas

Farmworkers Association of Florida

Environmental Protection Network

California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

Learning Disabilities Association of America

Toxic Free NC

Center for Food Safety

Pesticide Action Network North America

Green America