EPA Must Retract Fraudulent PFAS Report

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933
Jeff Ruch (510) 213-7028 


EPA Must Retract Fraudulent PFAS Report

Bogus Pesticide Finding Spotlights EPA’s Scientific Bankruptcy


Washington, DC In an effort to protect its reputation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued false statements that pesticides it tested contained no detectable per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The administrative complaint demands that EPA retract a 2023 research memo and press release the agency issued on the grounds that it violated the agency’s own guidelines for quality science and accuracy.  

In fall of 2022, researchers found high levels of PFAS in widely used pesticides. Published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters, the study contradicted previous EPA statements that PFAS are not used in registered pesticide products. 

In a May 30, 2023 press release, EPA released a non-peer-reviewed research memo declaring it “did not find any PFAS in the tested pesticide products.” What EPA did not reveal was –

  • EPA found PFAS in both pesticides sent to them and those independently obtained by the EPA. Despite this finding, EPA falsely stated in its public memo, “None of the 29 PFAS compounds, including PFOS, were detected in any of the samples above the method detection limits…” 
  • EPA did not report the high PFAS concentrations it did find, according to documents PEER obtained under the Freedom of Information Act; and
  • The samples sent to EPA had been deliberately spiked with PFAS. However, EPA did not disclose this spike in its memo, nor did it disclose that it had failed to find the spiked PFAS in its tests. The spike’s existence was revealed to EPA after its initial testsFailure to detect the spike brings into question the quality of its tests. 

“This memo is some of the worst science I have seen come out of the agency,” declared PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA, noting that spiking samples is a common quality control technique. “The fact that EPA claimed it could not find any PFAS in samples deliberately spiked is incredibly troubling.” 

PEER’s complaint was filed today under the Information Quality Act which requires the agency to correct any false or misleading scientific information it disseminates. The complaint also charges that EPA violated its own requirements for external peer review and pre-publication quality controls, among other procedures.

Under its rules, EPA has 90 days to act on PEER’s complaint. If it denies the complaint, PEER may appeal that action to a three-person committee consisting of the agency’s senior scientific leadership not connected with the subject matter of the complaint.

Besides the scientific misconduct, PEER’s complaint points to the major adverse health implications from PFAS-laden pesticides being sprayed over millions of acres of agricultural crops annually. EPA’s current posture is PFAS contamination of pesticides is not a problem.

“Scientists around the world are finding PFAS in pesticides from active and inert ingredients, contamination from fluorinated containers, and unknown sources,” added Bennett. “EPA’s claim that it ‘did not find any PFAS’ in these pesticides is not only untrue but lulls the public into a false sense of security that these products are PFAS free.” 

This March, PEER sent a retraction demand to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. In late April, an EPA official involved in the matter sent PEER a memo contending the agency “maintained scientific integrity and is in compliance with established good laboratory practices” in this matter. Today, PEER filed a detailed rebuttal to that defense as part of this formal complaint. 


Read the PEER Information Quality Act complaint

View the PFAS-pesticides study

See EPA press release

Examine the accompanying memo

Look at EPA’s response

Compare PEER’s rebuttal

Revisit problem of PFAS in pesticides

Phone: 202-265-7337

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

Copyright 2001–2024 Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility

PEER is a 501(c)(3) organization
EIN: 93-1102740