PFAS Chemicals Found in Commonly Used Pesticides, Study Finds

Pesticides and insecticides could be another vector for PFAS chemicals into the environment and water supplies, in addition to firefighting foam.

A new study warns that many common insecticides used on foods contain potentially toxic and cancer causing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals”, since they are known to build up in the environment and human body, posing a number of health risks,.

Researchers working with the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) published an analytical report (PDF) this month, indicating that widely used insecticides, such as Intrepid 2F, contain high levels of PFAS chemicals.

PFAS include over 9,000 man-made chemicals, which have been widely used in a number of products since the 1940’s, due to the ability to resist grease, oil and water. However, exposure to the chemicals has been linked to an increased risk of a myriad of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.

Widespread water contamination problems from PFAS chemicals have been identified in a number of communities nationwide, particularly around military bases, airports and firefighter training facilities, where large volumes of the chemicals have been dumped into the drinking water supply from aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used to fight petroleum fires.

The findings of this new study suggest some popular insecticides and pesticides sprayed directly onto food crops could also be a vector for PFAS exposure. It is also likely runoff from fields sprayed with insecticides would carry PFAS into surface and groundwaters, affecting species and contaminating drinking water supplies.