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Use of pesticides inspires controversy and legislation

Many in Louisiana, and around the country, have heard about the Environmental Protection Agency rejecting their own scientific conclusions about the safety of a widely used pesticide. As the New York Times reports, the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, reversed a ban on the use chlorpyrifos. This chemical is used on over 40,000 farms in the country, but has been banned for household use since 2000.

The petition asking the EPA to ban all forms of chlorpyrifos was originally filed 10 years ago, and studies, including one at Columbia University, found that the chemical had potentially harmful effects on children and farm workers who were exposed to it through various sources, including drinking water. Those people who suffered ill-effects had problems with memory and other learning issues. Early this year, the EPA declined a ban on the chemical, allowing chlorpyrifos to continue to be used on farms across the nation.

Yet pesticides remain an issue across the country, and many parents worry about the effects these chemicals have on the health of children who are exposed to them. The Sacramento Bee reports that California has a proposed law regulating pesticides within a quarter-mile of daycare centers and schools. In the legislation that has been put forward, farmers in the designated areas would be restricted from “pesticide application by aircraft, sprinkler, powder and gas” on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Several states have similar laws on the books already, including Louisiana, which restricts the spraying of pesticides near schools.

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