Chlorpyrifos – The Lawsuits
It was way back in 1965 that the Dow Chemical Company first started production of Chlorpyrifos. They were branded under two names – Dursban and Lorsban and it was widely used both in gardens and inside the home as a pesticide. It wasn’t until thirty years later in the mid-nineties that the fact that it could be dangerous to health struck home. In reality, the company was sitting on 249 reports that stated that there were cases of poisoning by Chlorpyrifos and they never did forward these to the EPA, even though they were honor bound to.
In 1995, Dow had to pay a fine of $732,000 because it had not submitted the reports and then in 2003, it had to retract its ‘safe’ clause from its product Dursban and pay a penalty of $2m. This was probably the largest amount that any chemical company paid by means of penalty charges. Since 2001, the company has been restricted to supplying product only for agricultural and commercial use and no longer for home use. However, Dow continues to sell its products in other countries, especially developing nations. In India, the claim on the product is that it is has a record of proven safety for both humans and animals. However, a few years ago, the offices of the company in India were raided because it was found that Dow had bribed the officials to allow for the sale of their products in the country.
In 2007 in the US, there was a coming together of advocacy groups as well as farm workers and together they filed a suit against the EPA and their plaint was to stop allowing the use of Chlorpyrifos in agriculture as well because it was jeopardizing the health of the farmers. Unfortunately, to date, the production of Chlorpyrifos goes on and though the company has pulled out of supplying to home users, there is a lot of the product going out for commercial use.