Lawsuit seeks to force US EPA to curb risks from pesticide Malathion

Conservation and public health groups are taking legal action against the Trump administration and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt for failing to protect endangered wildlife and the environment from the pesticide malathion. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the EPA and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have failed to complete the legally required steps to fully assess and limit the dangers of the neurotoxin.

Last year EPA scientists determined that the pesticide, manufactured by Dow Chemical, poses widespread risks to protected plants and animals. The EPA determined in a biological evaluation that 97% of federally protected species are likely harmed by malathion. The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a biological opinion concluding malathian harmed or killed 38 protected species under the agency’s jurisdiction. As part of a legal settlement, government scientists were required to issue a final opinion by the end of last year identifying ways to safeguard endangered species from malathion.

However, after the Trump administration took office, work assessing the harms of several pesticides was stalled. Seven months later, the EPA and Fish and Wildlife Service indefinitely suspended the malathion assessment.

“It is unacceptable to ignore the range of well-documented dangers with this outdated class of organophosphate pesticides,” said Sarah Aird, co-director of Californians for Pesticide Reform. “Malathion is one of the most dangerous pesticides still available on the market.”

This lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health and Californians for Pesticide Reform.