For Immediate Release
Bill to Ban Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Passes Maryland Senate
Chlorpyrifos is proven to cause brain damage in children and harm the environment
(Annapolis, MD) – Today, the Maryland Senate voted 31-14 in favor SB 300, a bill to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos—a toxic, nerve-agent pesticide that has been found to damage children’s brain development, contaminate waterways and injure wildlife. The bill is sponsored by Senator Clarence Lam (D-12), who took over the bill after its previous champion, Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, resigned due to health complications. The bill would take effect December 31, 2020.
“We are thrilled the Senate approved this bill to protect Maryland’s children,” said Ruth Berlin, executive director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network and leader of the Smart on Pesticides Coalition. “Our coalition extends our heartfelt thanks to Senator Paul Pinsky, the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee chair, for his leadership on propelling the bill through the Senate. The General Assembly must harness the growing momentum for a statewide chlorpyrifos ban and pass this necessary legislation without delay.”
After years of study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that chlorpyrifos was unsafe and proposed a rule to ban it in 2015. The Trump Administration killed the proposed rule weeks after taking office. Since then, California, Hawaii and New York have instituted chlorpyrifos bans, as has the European Union.
Scientists, public health officials, farmers, and environmental advocates who are part of the Smart on Pesticides coalition said chlorpyrifos must be fully banned as quickly as possible, and SB 300 would provide certainty about when, where, and how Maryland would finally ban chlorpyrifos. The coalition has denounced the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s proposal to “phase out the regular use of chlorpyrifos” as unacceptable because it lacks specificity and because the department does not have the financial resources and expertise required to develop and defend a regulation banning the pesticide.
Chlorpyrifos is linked to neurodevelopmental issues, autism and cancer in children, as well as breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. It is also a major concern for the health of aquatic life and the Chesapeake Bay and harms pollinators.
An amendment to the Senate version of the bill allows the ban to sunset in four years, which advocates say contradicts scientific recommendations that chlorpyrifos be banned for good and which they hope to correct as the bill makes its way through the legislative process.
The House version of the bill (HB 229), sponsored by Delegate Dana Stein (D-11), is under consideration by the Environment and Transportation Committee. Read a fact sheet about SB 300/HB 229 here.
The Smart on Pesticides Maryland coalition, spearheaded by the Maryland Pesticide Education Network, works to protect Marylanders and the natural systems we depend upon from the toxic impacts of pesticides. The coalition includes 105 organizations, and institutions representing communities, businesses, health care providers, farmers, environmentalists, waterkeepers, interfaith congregants as well as environmental justice, public health and wildlife advocates.