A federal appeals court ordered the Trump administration Thursday to revoke approval for a widely used pesticide that studies show can harm the brains of children.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide initially developed as a nerve gas during World War II.
“This decision to tell the EPA to do the ban is a pretty bold move,” said Kristen Boyles, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, who represented environmental and farm worker groups in the case.
But she said it was justified by the science and the EPA’s continued foot-dragging.
The 2-1 decision stemmed from a 2007 petition by two environmental groups to prevent the chemical from being used on food.
The groups cited studies that found children and infants who had been exposed prenatally to low doses of chlorpyrifos suffer from reduced IQ, attention deficit disorders and delayed motor development that lasts into adulthood.
“The EPA failed to take any decisive action in response to the 2007 petition, notwithstanding that the EPA’s own internal studies continued to document serious safety risks associated with chlorpyrifos use, particularly for children,” New York District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who was filling in on the 9th Circuit, wrote for the panel.
The Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide’s use on food crops, but former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reversed course last year and decided to retain the pesticide.