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Hawai'i Becomes First State to Ban Neurotoxin, Chlorpyrifos

Wayne Yoshioka

Hawai’i became the first state in the nation to ban the use of a harmful pesticide by 2023.



Governor David Ige signed Senate Bill 3095 into law, which now prohibits the use of restricted pesticides within 100 feet of a school during normal hours beginning January 1st..  It also requires a permit to use pesticides containing the neurotoxin, Chlorpyrofos, as an active ingredient and totally bans the chemical in 2023.

Senator Russell Ruderman, introduced the bill, which appropriates 300-thousand dollars for a pesticide drift monitoring study by the state Department of Agriculture.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Senator Russell Ruderman (right) introduced SB 3095.

“The disclosure of the chemicals used is a very important step so that we can begin to have scientific analyses of health effects of pesticides.  And also the buffer zones around schools.  You know, we work to keep guns out of schools and predators out of schools, it ought to be a no brainer to keep poisonous chemicals out of schools, too.  I’m surprised it was such a fight but it’s my hope this is just the first step.”


Ruderman says it was a 5 year effort to get a bill passed.  Former State Senator and Kaua’i County Councilmember, Gary Hooser, says 5 years is too long.


Former state senator and Kaua'i resident, Gary Hooser

“We’re dealing with some of the biggest corporations in the world, here, and with lots of resources to push back, to stall, to delay.  You know, the Governor recognizes the value of food security and recognizes that we need to keep our farms strong.  But, we also need to keep the health of the community strong, as well.  And, there’s a difference between industrial agriculture that really feeds no one, and  local family farms that feed us.”


Lauren Rego, from Maui, is holding her one and-a-half-year old daughter, Ember.   Rego lobbied the legislature with other environmentalists and concerned parents. She says the lessons they learned will now serve as catalysts for their next fight.


Lauren Rego and daughter, Ember

“The next fight is Huli 2018.  We’re realizing that this process was just so difficult.  And, what we ended up with now, is a shadow of what we started and of what we’ve been really fighting for.  And, we understand that in order to really get the change that we need, we need to change the people who are in office.”


Governor David Ige, meanwhile, says the state has the authority to ban pesticides up front and he intends to resurrect the group that oversees their use.


“The state has had a pesticide advisory committee in the books for many, many years, and it’s become dormant and inactive and we’ll be activating that.  It’s made up of expert scientists in the field that will help us sort through the reports and the studies that have been filed at the federal level.”


 For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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