PRESS RELEASE

EPA’s Belated PFAS Pesticide Ingredient Ban Does Little

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 7, 20221
Contact:
Kyla Bennett, kbennett@peer.org, (508) 230-9933

 


EPA’s Belated PFAS Pesticide Ingredient Ban Does Little

Banning a Dozen Inert Ingredients Does Not Stem PFAS Agricultural Spread

 

Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal last week to remove 12 chemicals identified as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the approved list of inert ingredients for pesticides underlines the glaring weaknesses in its overall posture, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). EPA’s action will do little to prevent PFAS contamination from spreading across agricultural land, PEER charges.

PEER raised an alarm about PFAS in pesticides with EPA in December 2020; findings which EPA confirmed a month later. EPA’s latest action, however, misses the larger concerns in that –

  • Because EPA does not have a consistent definition of PFAS, it still does not know which active pesticide ingredients are PFAS;
  • EPA knows that PFAS leaches into pesticides from the linings of fluorinated shipping containers, but EPA has not followed up on this issue as promised. These barrels may also be a source of contamination affecting a variety of food stuffs; and
  • The inert ingredients are just the tip of a toxic iceberg since fluorinated pesticides accounted for almost 70% of the new agrochemicals approved during the second half of the last decade. 

“While we are glad that EPA acted on this one recommendation, we wish it had done so sooner and without wielding such an exceedingly narrow brush,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA. “This action was such low-hanging fruit that it was practically rotting on the ground.”

EPA claims that the PFAS inert ingredients that it proposes to ban are “no longer used in registered pesticide products” yet it is important to ban them “if their future use in pesticide products is requested.”

“EPA should prohibit all PFAS in any pesticide products – now,” added Bennett, arguing that there is no justification for spraying chemicals that do not break down in the environment and which bioaccumulate in the food chain from agricultural crops. “At the rate that EPA is proceeding, PFAS contamination of our food supply will be beyond control.”

One overarching problem hampering EPA efforts is that the agency lacks a consistent and scientifically accurate definition of PFAS. That leaves the agency to deal with the thousands of PFAS variations on a chemical-by-chemical basis. The absence of a comprehensive regulatory definition confines the agency to hyper-limited ad hoc measures such as this.

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 View the EPA announcement

Look at the two-year old PEER warning

See new study on widespread use of fluorinated pesticides 

Revisit EPA’s PFAS definition follies