‘Forever chemical’ PFAS Found in Pesticides
January 31, 2021, Annapolis, MD – In March of last year, Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) sent a sample of the pesticide Permanone 30-30, a mosquito control product used by Maryland Dept. of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control program, for PFAS testing by an independent lab used by the EPA. The Eurofins lab testing found high levels of PFAS (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances) in the pesticide at 3,500 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA, one of thousands of PFAS. The source of the PFAS is unknown, as it is not an active ingredient, and it may be from container contamination or used as an inert ingredient. MPEN and PEER shared the lab finding with EPA and MDA, calling for a halt of Maryland’s use of mosquito eradicating products until all such products have been tested for PFAS. While MDA stopped its use of Permanone, they replaced Permanone with two similar products, BioMist and Permasease, using them in 2,100 Maryland communities, without prior testing for PFAS contamination.
PFAS are not supposed to be mosquito control products and pose significant risk to public health and environment.
Recently, Maryland resumed use of Permanone, after a new EPA test didn’t detect PFAS in a different set of samples of the pesticide, provided for testing by the manufacturer and Md Dept. of Agriculture. Maryland continues to list Mavrik as a potential pesticide to use this season, which the Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Portectect tested earlier this year and found to contain 16000 ppt of PFAS. While MDA claims it has not used Mavrik since 2017, it is still listed on its Mosquito Control webpage as a current product that can be used.
Exposure to PFAS has been linked to such health effects as kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver toxicity, increased cholesterol, and lower birth weight. Of greater concern during the pandemic is a decreased response to certain vaccines and a greater risk of COVID-19 infection and severity of disease (ICU admission and death) in association with higher urine and blood levels of certain PFAS chemicals.
PFAS contamination of pesticides is a widespread issue affecting an unknown, but likely very large number of pesticide products. Because the EPA is failing to require the disclosure and testing for PFAS, it falls to Maryland and other states to ensure that the pesticides used in the region are free from PFAS.
- MPEN-PEER joint press release, March 25, 2021 – PFAS Found in Widely Used Insecticide
- Baltimore Sun, Mar 25, 2021 – Researchers find harmful ‘forever chemicals’ in pesticide used against mosquitoes in Maryland
- Baltimore Sun, Bay Journal, May 26, 2021 – ‘Forever chemicals’ found in mosquito spray
- Maryland Matters, July 15, 2021 – Our families deserve an environment free of chemicals
- Baltimore Sun, October 3, 2021 – Maryland to resume use of pesticides after EPA testing doesn’t detect PFAS
- Baltimore Sun LTE, October 8, 2021 – Maryland must not let down its guard on ‘forever chemicals’
What you can do: Protect yourself, your family and your community.
- Communities and individuals can opt-out of Maryland’s Mosquito Control program, here’s how.
- Talk to your community association and neighbors about the danger and how to opt-out of the program.
- The coalition’s Managing Mosquitoes Without Pesticides campaign provides non-toxic alternatives to prevent mosquito bites and control mosquitoes. Download the fact sheet.