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A Toxics-Free Future


Chile: Country Situation Report on Chlorpyrifos

June 2023

Chlorpyrifos is a chlorinated organophosphate insecticide with the characteristics of a persistent organic pollutant (POP). It is toxic at very low concentrations and can be transported over long distances; it is persistent and bioaccumulative, concentrating in the tissues of aquatic and terrestrial organisms at successive levels of the trophic food chain. 

Due to its effects on human health and the environment, the European Union (EU) proposed the inclusion of chlorpyrifos in Annex A of theStockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). In 2020, the EU denied approval of chlorpyrifos as a plant protection product following the risk assessment conducted by Member States and the European Food Safety Authority.  In 2014, the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found risks to workers and possible risks of contamination of drinking water from chlorpyrifos. According to the EPA, exposure to the compound is also linked to delays in mental development in children.

Independent epidemiological studies indicate that chlorpyrifos contaminates the environment, causes harm to animal and human health, especially at the perinatal stage and in childhood. There is strong scientific evidence that chlorpyrifos and organophosphate pesticides (OP) damage the fetal brain and cause cognitive and behavioral dysfunction through multiple mechanisms, including alteration of the thyroid, which is crucial for brain development. 

In the region, harmful effects on the neurological and psychomotor development of children were shown in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America. Studies in rats carried out by the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, show that chlorpyrifos alters the endocrine balance acting as an endocrine disruptor in vivo. These findings demonstrate the harmful effects that chlorpyrifos exerts on the mammary glands, suggesting that the compound may act as a risk factor for breast cancer. Studies elsewhere show an association between chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl and autism and Parkinson's disease in laboratory animals.

In Chile, chlorpyrifos is widely used in agriculture, especially in fresh vegetables, and its residues are regularly found in food. According to a report of the Agriculture and Livestock Service, in 2019, chlorpyrifos ranked second in insecticide sales with a total amount of 605,017.00 kg/liter, accounting for 6.21% of all sales. According to the studies included in this report, chlorpyrifos affects rural inhabitants through direct and indirect exposure, and urban dwellers through consumption of vegetables and other products contaminated with its residues, causing both acute and chronic conditions.

This project relates to Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 6, 8, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

Special thanks to IPEN's Latin America and Caribbean Regional Coordinator Fernando Bejarano, the Regional Hub, and the lead organization developing this report, RAP-AL Chile and María Elena Rozas Flores for their important contributions to the development and finalization of the project.

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