Earlier this year, 17 healthcare professionals on Kauai added their voices to a request that Gov. David Ige ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos in Hawaii.
Physicians and psychologists on Kauai signed a letter dated April 17 asking the governor to ban the chemical from agricultural use.
Dr. Lee Evslin, a Kauai pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 30 years, previously told TGI he signed it because he and the others believe Ige’s interest in the matter is the state’s “last hope.”
“The science clearly shows that chlorpyrifos may cause irreversible, adverse changes to the unborn child’s brain,” Evslin said. “The federal government is apparently not going to protect our keiki, and the state Legislature failed to pass any meaningful legislation concerning pesticides.”
It wasn’t the first time people from Kauai approached Ige requesting consideration of a chlorpyrifos ban.
In March, Ige met with members of Hawaii SEED, the group’s president Jeri Di Pietro, and a few others from Kauai and Maui.
Their goal was to thank him for funding the state-mandated joint fact-finding report, which studied the effects of pesticide use on Kauai’s Westside, as well as inform him of their concerns about chlorpyrifos.
“We stand behind precaution and urge a ban on the widespread, undisclosed spraying of insecticidal neurotoxins, like chlorpyrifos,” Di Pietro said. “It is extremely harmful to children’s development, worker safety and ecosystem habitats.”
In January 2016, some Syngenta workers were hospitalized after they entered a field in Kekaha too soon after it had been sprayed with chlorpyrifos. They were taken to Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. Several employees were released from the hospital later that day, while three stayed overnight. All employees were back to work within a few days.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later filed a complaint over the incident. It alleged that Syngenta Seeds, LLC violated numerous federal pesticide regulations and it was seeking civil penalties of over $4.8 million for the violations.
Pesticide companies maintain chlorpyrifos is safe as long as it is used according to label instructions.