In a previous article, ‘Latest Insights Relating to PFAS in Food Packaging Materials,’ we described the nature of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and considered their impact on human health and the environment. In particular, we focused on the European Food Safety Authority’s risk assessment and monitoring in the European Union. In this article, we look at recent events in the United States and the discovery that pesticides used to control mosquitoes have been contaminated with PFAS derived from fluorinated packaging.
PRELIMINARY TESTS COMMISSIONED BY PEER (DEC 2020)
In December 2020, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) published results that showed high levels of PFAS compounds in a pesticide widely used to control mosquitoes – Anvil 10+10. This raised the alarm that these ‘forever chemicals’ had potentially been spread across millions of acres in the US.
This insecticide has been used extensively, sprayed aerially and from vehicles, across a variety of different US states, including Massachusetts, Florida and New York. PEER’s analysis found that a content level of roughly 250 ppt (part per trillion) for PFOA had mostly been phased out, and 260-500 ppt of HFPO-DA, also known as ‘GenX’. PEER concluded that, although PFAS chemicals can be included in pesticide formulations as a surfactant, anti-foaming agent or dispersant, there was no clear evidence as to whether the identified PFAS were intentionally added or had leaked from packaging.
PEER also noted that PFAS are listed as approved inert ingredients by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that patents showed PFAS were being used by chemical companies. This has led to additional concerns that other products, including other pesticides, might also be involved.