WASHINGTON— California’s most-used insecticide, along with two other pesticides, is contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of PFAS “forever chemicals,” according to test results released today by the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Intrepid 2F is the most widely applied insecticide product in the state of California and the second most widely used pesticide product in the state, behind only Roundup. In 2021, the most recent year data are available, more than 1.7 million pounds of it were applied to over 1.3 million cumulative acres of California land. Use is highest in the Central Valley on crops such as almonds, grapes, peaches and pistachios.
The findings that 3 of 7 agricultural pesticides tested contain high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — in one case far exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe in drinking water — highlights the need for much broader testing and removal of contaminated products, according to the groups.
“I can’t imagine anything that could make these products any more dangerous than they already are, but apparently my imagination isn’t big enough,” said Nathan Donley, environmental health science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA has to take control of this situation and remove pesticide products that are contaminated with these extremely dangerous, persistent chemicals.”
PFAS do not break down in the environment and are associated with immune system suppression, liver damage, thyroid disease, reduced fertility, high cholesterol, obesity and cancer. PFAS have been detected in more than 330 animal species around the world, including many that are at risk of extinction.
The testing, commissioned by the Center and conducted by an independent, certified lab, found PFAS in 3 out of 7 agricultural pesticides tested. No PFAS were detected in concentrations above the detection limit in the two residential pesticide products that were tested.