Eric Risberg / AP
In early 2020, California will ban the sale of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to brain damage and other health problems in children, according to the State Environmental Officer.
Pursuant to an agreement with chlorpyrifos manufacturer Corteva Agriscience The sale of the pesticide will end on 6 February 2020, and agricultural producers may no longer own or use it after 31 December 2020.
"Environmental justice advocates have been struggling for years to obtain the harmful pesticide Chlorpyrifos from our communities," Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement. "Thanks to their tenacity and the work of many others, this will now happen faster than originally thought, which is a huge benefit for children, workers and public health in California."
Chlorpyrifos is mainly used in crops such as alfalfa. Almonds, citrus fruits, cotton, grapes and walnuts.
The Californian environmental authorities have been targeting the pesticide for years. They have classified chlorpyrifos as a "toxic air pollutant" which poses health risks when inhaled or when in contact with the skin of bystanders. The agreement contains a ban on spraying from the air.
"The rapid end of the sale of chlorpyrifos protects endangered communities by removing a harmful pesticide from the market," said California Environmental Protection Minister Jared Blumenfeld in a statement. "This agreement avoids lengthy legal processes and provides California farmers with a clear timeline for developing alternative pest control methods."
The US Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama proposed a federal ban on chlorpyrifos in 2015. The EPA reversed the course within three months of the launch of the new Trump administration.
Last year, federal government's best fisheries experts said in a report that the pesticide and two others – diazinon and malathion – were flushed into streams and rivers, damaging wildlife such as endangered salmon.
Chlorpyrifos was already banned in Hawaii, according to the Associated Press.
Pesticide producer Corteva Agriscience did not respond to NPR's request for comment on demanding regulatory requirements for chlorpyrifos. These new, novel requirements have made it virtually impossible for farmers to use this important tool in their condition. "