Communities in the United States may be polluted with toxic and persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from pesticides that have been sprayed to control mosquitoes.
Separate tests by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) advocacy group and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found PFAS in Anvil 10 + 10, a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide. According to PEER, mosquito control programs in a number of states, including Massachusetts, are spraying this product from trucks and airplanes.
The two analyzes, each of which could detect the same 36 PFAS, showed that anvil contained 10 + 10 perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid, a product of the hydrolysis of GenX, Chemours’ replacement for PFOA; Perfluorobutanoic acid; and perfluorohexanoic acid among others.
“In Massachusetts, communities are struggling to remove PFAS from their drinking water supplies while we may be showering them from the sky and the streets at the same time as PFAS,” said Kyla Bennett, science policy advisor at PEER.
Clarke Mosquito Control Products, which formulates Anvil 10 + 10, does not add PFAS to its products, a company spokesman in Illinois told C&EN. Clarke checked the entire supply chain and found that PFAS was neither used as a raw material nor added to the ingredients of this product, the spokesman added. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement to C&EN that Anvil’s pesticide registration does not contain 10 + 10 PFAS as an ingredient.
Bennett notes, however, that the EPA has approved a number of PFAS for use as so-called inert ingredients in pesticides. Companies can claim the identity of these inert ingredients as trade secrets.
Many non-polymeric PFAS are useful surfactants and anti-foam agents and can extend the shelf life of pesticide actives, says Bennett. “We don’t know how many insecticides, herbicides, or even disinfectants PFAS contain,” she adds.
PEER informed the EPA of the test results in late November. The agency, which is working to reduce public exposure to PFAS, claims to be testing additional samples of Anvil 10 + 10 and developing an analytical method to detect PFAS in pesticide products.