EPA finds poisonous compounds in mosquito spray that’s utilized in moderation; Producer will change packaging

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The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized that a controversial pesticide used in Massachusetts to kill mosquitoes contains toxic chemicals that enter the product from the container, and the manufacturer has agreed to change the packaging, officials said Thursday With.

The State Department of Environmental Protection began testing the pesticide, known as Anvil 10 + 10, in the fall after previous testing by a Washington advocacy group found it contained increased levels of toxic compounds known as PFAS. The federal EPA separately said it would run its own tests.

The so-called “forever chemicals” found in a wide variety of commercial products that never break down completely have been linked to cancer, low birth weight, and a range of diseases.

The EPA said Thursday it found that fluorinated “containers used to store and ship a mosquito control pesticide product contain PFAS compounds that leach into the pesticide product.” No details were given on the content of the compounds in the pesticide.

Clarke, the Illinois-based maker of Anvil 10 + 10, said in a separate statement that it had not examined and found any of the toxic chemicals in its products or the raw materials used to make them. The company has stopped “all sales and deliveries to customers of Anvil 10 + 10 in plastic containers” and is committed to only using PFAS-free plastic in the future.

“Fluorinated packaging is widely used in agriculture for finished goods, including pesticides,” the company said. “The potential of PFAS chemistry from fluorinated packaging to leach into finished goods was unknown to Clarke.”

The EPA is still in the early stages of its investigation into Anvil 10 + 10 and has asked the company for information about fluorinating the plastic containers used by Clarke and other pesticide manufacturers.

Environmental stewardship public officials, the advocacy group that first tested the pesticide samples and initiated the state’s investigation, said in a statement Thursday that the EPA’s announcement “raises major new public health concerns.”

“The EPA’s discovery opened a Pandora’s box of health risks,” said Kyla Bennett, director of science policy for the organization that led the pesticide’s initial tests, in the statement. “Shipping containers can be a significant source of PFAS exposure across the US agricultural sector.”

An unknown number of other products could be shipped in similarly contaminated containers and countless acres of land could have been sprayed with pesticides containing PFAS, the organization said. It is estimated that nearly 30 states, including Massachusetts, use Anvil 10 + 10 for airborne mosquito spraying.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.

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