California Should Ban Pesticides with Forever Chemicals   

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For Immediate Release:  Monday, December 7, 2020
Contact:  Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028; Kirsten Stade

California Should Ban Pesticides with Forever Chemicals

Presence of PFAS in Insecticide Magnifies Agricultural Water Pollution Risks

Washington, DC — An insecticide used in California for mosquito control contains per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to laboratory test results posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The organization is asking state officials to ban any pesticides containing the toxic “forever chemicals” which are already contaminating drinking water throughout the state.

Tests commissioned by PEER of Anvil 10+10, a pesticide widely used for mosquito control in California and several other states, show it contains roughly 250 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been largely phased out in the U.S.), and 260 – 500 ppt of HFPO-DA (a “GenX” replacement for PFOA).  By contrast, the California “response” level for PFOA is 10 ppt and 40 ppt for PFOS in drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to promulgate limits but prescribes a 70 ppt Lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

Significantly, PFAS are not listed as active ingredients in Anvil 10+10. PEER found PFAS listed as approved inert ingredients on EPA’s “Inert Finder” database. EPA is not required to disclose many inert ingredients in pesticides, and manufacturers often withhold this information as “trade secrets” or “proprietary” information.  Nor is the presence of PFAS disclosed in Anvil 10+10’s registration with California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).

“California communities already struggling to remove PFAS from their drinking water may be absorbing even more PFAS showered from the skies,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting Massachusetts’ Department of Environmental Protection also found eight different PFAS in Anvil 10+10.  “California’s PFAS control strategy must be comprehensive to be effective.”

PFAS are called “forever chemicals” since they do not break down in the environment and build up in our blood stream. They are associated with a variety of ailments, including suppressed immune function, thyroid disease, testicular and kidney disease, cancers, and liver damage.  Their effect on immune systems also makes exposed populations more vulnerable to COVID.

In a letter to the California DPR, PEER urges state action because –

  • Aerial spraying in agricultural areas increases risk of PFAS contaminating groundwater.  Drinking water wells serving more than one-third of the state’s population already suffer from PFAS contamination;
  • The number of other pesticide agents containing unlisted PFAS inert ingredients is unknown and would require extensive review and additional testing; and
  • PFOS and PFOA are on the state’s Prop 65 list of chemicals requiring notification as a reproductive toxin at even lower levels than the newly enacted response levels.

“The reason California has its own, stricter standards for pesticides is to protect its residents from adverse impacts flowing from lax federal regulation,” added Ruch, whose organization has faulted EPA’s anemic “PFAS Action Plan.”  “This is a classic case for California stepping up to fill a serious federal public health void.”


See the Anvil 10+10 test results 

Look at Anvil registration in California

See PSOS and PFOA California’s Prop 65 listing 

View PFOS and PFOA limits in California and other states

Read PEER letter to California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Cal EPA   

Phone: 202-265-7337

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

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