Dow Chemical is an American chemical corporation serving many countries around the world including Canada. The company is among the three largest chemical producers worldwide and has just been struck with a lawsuit after a commonly used pesticide was linked to brain damage in children and fetuses.
The chemical chlorpyrifos kills bugs and was used on more than 80 crops including oranges, berries, grapes, soybeans, almonds, and walnuts. Records show that 61 million pounds of the pesticide were sprayed between 1974-2017, and the effects still linger in agricultural communities where after decades of use, there are measurable amounts of levels found in people’s homes. In these contaminated homes, they found traces of the pesticide in carpets, furniture, blankets, and even stuffed animals.
A related lawsuit was filed last fall on behalf of farmworkers who worked every day with the chemical. The company believes the chemical to be safe but stopped manufacturing it after a significant decrease in sales. More recently, scientific studies linked chlorpyrifos with brain damage in children who are frequently exposed to the pesticide. This includes children living in agricultural communities with the chemical in their home, or children who are in frequent contact with adults who are commonly exposed, such as farm workers.
In most of the lawsuits, the plaintiffs are parents suing on behalf of their children who suffer from severe neurological injuries. In one case the lawsuit blames chlorpyrifos for causing cognitive and intellectual disabilities in a teen born in 2003. The teens’ father worked spraying the pesticide onto the farm fields, while his mother packed produce covered in the chemical in a facility surrounded by chlorpyrifos sprayed fields. The lawsuit places blame on the pesticide – which was passed from parent to child through frequent contact – for the cognitive and intellectual disabilities he possesses.
The case settled for $93 million, along with the company paying to decontaminate more than 4,500 homes that have been exposed to the chemical. The pesticide has been banned, and permanently discontinued to prevent further harm it may cause to farmworkers, agricultural community members, their families, and their children.