Producers Warned by EPA that PFAS Is Contaminating Pesticides and Food

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2022) Plastic storage barrels contaminated with polyuoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may be in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), according to an open letter released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month. Manufacturers, producers, processors, distributors, users, and those that dispose of uorinated High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) containers or other similar plastics that form PFAS as a byproduct were notied in the letter of requirements under federal law. The notice comes two years after EPA was rst alerted to the presence of PFAS in a mosquito pesticide used by the state of Massachusetts known as Anvil 10+10. “Today’s action will help ensure that responsible parties are held accountable for any future PFAS contamination aecting communities,” said Assistant Administrator for the Oce of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedho, PhD. 

While the agency believes its letter represents progress, health advocates note that there has been no meaningful regulatory action from the agency on this issue. In January 2021, a year after receiving notice from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) on the presence of PFAS on Anvil 10+10, EPA conrmed the nding. At the time the agency did nothing, while acknowledging, “the need to provide guidance…” Even with the specic conrmation, EPA merely encouraged states with Anvil 10+10 stocks to “red tag that inventory and hold for now.” 

EPA’s latest actions indicate that these barrels may violate TSCA, but provide a possible roadmap for manufacturers to achieve compliance. The agency indicates that its long-chain peruoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) Signicant New Use Rule (SNUR), released in 2020, does not provide an exemption for PFAS produced as a byproduct of plastic manufacturing. EPA indicates, “This means that the uses require notice to EPA via a Signicant New Use Notice (SNUN), EPA review of potential risks of this use under TSCA section 5, and a determination of whether (and under what conditions) such uses can continue.”