Don't use lanternfly as an excuse to permit dangerous pesticide

Maryland failed to ban a harmful pesticide in this year’s General Assembly session because of fears pushed by the golf course, agriculture and chemical lobbyists (“Fears of lanternfly invasion cause Maryland lawmakers to abandon pesticide ban,” March 15). Sadly, these powerful industries won out against overwhelming evidence showing that chlorpyrifos harms children.

In 2015, after nearly 20 years of study, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists recommended chlorpyrifos be banned for all uses due to its confirmed links of prenatal exposures with impaired cognition, autism, ADHD, developmental delays, memory deficits and other serious neurodevelopmental issues. However, one of the EPA’s first decisions under the Trump administration was to reverse this recommendation.

Golf course and agriculture representatives say they want to keep chlorpyrifos as an option “in their toolbox.” But entomologists say plenty of far safer pesticide alternatives exist, and even golf course and agriculture literature recommend alternatives.

Any notion that we need this nerve agent pesticide to fight invasive species and bluegrass weevils is a ruse at best and a frightening idea at worst. Do we really want to look for new ways to use this pesticide? Former American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Fernando Stein said that chlorpyrifos is “unambiguously dangerous and should be banned from use.”

There’s a reason why DDT, PCBs, lead in paint and other harmful chemicals have been banned in our country – and as history has shown, actions taken to protect public health often come too late. There is simply no justification for this dangerous pesticide to be used in Maryland or elsewhere.

Devon Payne-Sturges, College Park

The writer is assistant professor in the University of Maryland School of Public Health and formerly worked at the EPA where she managed studies on prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos.

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