Oregon Task Force To Tackle The Use Of Controversial Pesticide

By Monica Samayoa (OPB)
Jan. 18, 2020 12:15 a.m.

An advisory committee is considering limits on the use of a controversial pesticides.

Last year, both the Trump Administration and Oregon lawmakers chose not to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to developmental and health problems with those who have become exposed to it.


The pesticide is mainly used on Christmas trees, leafy greens, and alfalfa.

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

The Chlorpyrifos Work Group next meets on Thursday. It is made up of 12 members which include experts and leaders from agriculture, environmental justice groups, toxicologist and farmworker health and safety organizations.

“We have a really diverse agricultural industry in Oregon. So many sectors within the industry use the product, we have other land uses that use the product and then we have folks who represent particularly vulnerable populations that can be exposed to the product,” Department of Agriculture’s Stephanie Page said.

“One really helpful thing is that many of these folks have worked together in the past on other difficult issues, they’re accustomed to working together.”

Page said the goal for this workgroup is to look into the critical uses and evaluate science-based restrictions that protect public health, safety and limit exposure.

The committee will also explore ways to reduce bystander exposure to workers, neighbors or people who live near areas where the pesticide has been used.


Chlorpyrifos Use In The Pacific Northwest

Low-end estimates for Oregon and Washington show chlorpyrifos use spiked in the early 2000s, before gradually falling to rates similar to the early 1990s. Orchards and grapes remain the dominant use.

Tony Schick, OPB. Source: US Geological Survey Pesticide National Synthesis Project. 

But Page said that doesn't necessarily mean the pesticide will be banned outright.

“One thing we want to make sure and understand with the group is what are the unintended consequences of restricting or banning a product in terms of what are the impacts on pests. So, I think that’s something we will be looking at as well just to make sure we understand what the impacts can be on that side,” Page said.

This is the second advisory committee meeting and the work group with meet again in March.

The agency anticipates the committee to come up with a proposal by May.