October 26, 2017
By Justin Worland –
Bonnie Wirtz was tending to her Minnesota farm one summer evening in 2012 when a crop duster buzzed low overhead. The aircraft sprayed chemicals on her property, missing its target next door. Soon the fumes seeped into her home through the air conditioner, and Wirtz wound up in an emergency room, coughing and bewildered and worried about the health of her 8-month-old son.
She had been sickened by a reaction to a pesticide called chlorpyrifos, which the agriculture industry uses to kill insects and worms on everything from cotton to oranges. A growing body of scientific evidence has linked the pesticide to health problems in children. Indeed, Wirtz’s son was diagnosed in 2015 with a developmental disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. It was the kind of episode that pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that same year to propose banning the chemical altogether for most uses.