Census Demographics and Chlorpyrifos Use in California's Central Valley, 2011-15: A Distributional Environmental Justice Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 10;17(7):2593. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072593.


Chlorpyrifos, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (ACI), is one of the most widely used insecticides in the world, and is generally recognized to be a moderate human neurotoxin. This paper reports a distributional environmental justice (dEJ) analysis of chlorpyrifos use in California's Central Valley, examining the way distributions of environmental risks are associated with race, ethnicity, class, gender, and other systems of structural oppression. Spatial data on chlorpyrifos use were retrieved from California's Department of Pesticide Registration public pesticide use records for 2011-2015. These data were combined with demographic data for the Central Valley from the American Community Survey (ACS). Spatial regression models were used to estimate effects of demographic covariates on local chlorpyrifos use. A novel bootstrap method was used to account for measurement error in the ACS estimates. This study finds consistent evidence that Hispanic population proportion is associated with increased local chlorpyrifos use. A 10-point increase in Hispanic proportion is associated with an estimated 1.05-1.4-fold increase in local chlorpyrifos use across Census tract models. By contrast, effects of agricultural employment and poverty on local chlorpyrifos use are ambiguous and inconsistent between Census tracts and Census-designated places.

Keywords: California; chlorpyrifos; environmental justice; pesticides; public data; spatial regression.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • California
  • Censuses
  • Chlorpyrifos / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / analysis*
  • Pesticides*


  • Insecticides
  • Pesticides
  • Chlorpyrifos