Oregon moves to phase out most uses of a controversial pesticide by 2023

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Dec. 16, 2020 1:27 a.m.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says it will begin to limit the use of chlorpyrifos and ultimately phase out nearly all its use by 2023.

The agency’s decision, announced Tuesday, followed extensive research and input from an advisory workgroup that included leaders and industry experts ranging from agriculture, environmental justice groups, toxicologists, and a farmworker health and safety organization. The ODA submitted rules this week to significantly limit the use of chlorpyrifos and phase out all its use by December 31, 2023.


Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide mainly used in Oregon on Christmas trees, leafy greens crops and alfalfa. Its use has been linked to harmful effects on the human body.

Related: A Toxic Pesticide Once Targeted For A Ban Was Probably Sprayed On Your Christmas Tree

Some of the most notable changes under the new rules will be a prohibition on the pesticide on golf course turfgrass and certain types of enclosed structures. They also establish a four-day restricted entry interval after use for all crops including nursery and Christmas trees and a ban on aerial applications for all crops except Christmas trees.


Also, all applicators must pass a pesticide certification exam and obtain a license.

By December 31, 2023, the sale or use of chlorpyrifos is prohibited except for commercial pre-plant seed treatments, granular formulations and cattle ear tags.

The ODA received more than 2,400 comments over two public comment periods. In the next three years, the ODA will research alternative products and evaluate new Environmental Protection Agency approved insecticides. The final rule reflects the goal to reduce the risk of exposure to the pesticide by limiting its use.

Beyond Toxics Executive Director Lisa Arkin, who was also a member of the chlorpyrifos workgroup committee, said the new rules put Oregon on par with California laws on the pesticide’s use but she said she is disappointed it was not completely and more immediately banned.

“I don’t see the rules reflecting the urgency of Oregonians that wanted to see this completely phased out,” Arkin said.

Chlorpyrifos workgroup committee member and Oregon Farm Bureau lobbyist Jenny Dresler said the organization is still reviewing the rules for impacts to Oregon farmers.

“Upon initial review, we are disappointed to see chlorpyrifos phased out without acknowledgment of the lack of viable alternatives for many of the crops that Oregon is known for,” Dresler said.