Read the full article by Monica Amarelo (EWG)

“More than 1,400 pesticides contain active ingredients that meet Maine’s definition for the toxic ‘forever chemicals‘ known as PFAS, according to a new analysis of data from the state by Environmental Working Group researchers.

Maine is the first state to enact a comprehensive ban on pesticides that include intentionally added PFAS, and pesticides contaminated with PFAS. That ban goes into effect in 2030.

The state compiled a working list of 55 active ingredients that meet its definition of PFAS, which is ‘any member of the class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.’ Other governments use different definitions of PFAS, including those that would exclude some of the chemicals Maine has identified as PFAS.

All pesticides used in Maine must be registered with the state’s Board of Pesticides Control. The agency then submits this information to the National Pesticide Information Retrieval System, a database of registered pesticides administered by Purdue University.

Using this database, EWG found that more than 1,400 pesticides registered in Maine use active ingredients that meet the state’s definition of PFAS.

‘We should not be spraying PFAS on our food or in our homes,’ said EWG Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber.

None of the PFAS identified by EWG are among the PFAS recently removed from an EPA list of EPA-approved inert ingredients.  

PFAS can be used as an active ingredient in pesticides because the fluorinated qualities of the chemicals make the pesticide more effective and stable. PFAS can also be used as an ingredient to extend shelf life and provide an even coating.

The use of fluorinated plastic containers was previously found to cause PFAS contamination of some pesticides, although more recent EPA testing released this week did not detect PFAS in samples of ten pesticide products.

‘PFAS in pesticides can pose risks to agricultural workers and communities, downstream water users when pesticides are washed into the water supply, and people who use these products in their homes and gardens,’ said EWG Stabile Law Fellow Lillian Zhou.

Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to the suppression of the immune system and are associated with an elevated risk of cancer, increased cholesterol, and reproductive and developmental harms, among other serious health concerns.

‘Extensive research demonstrated that PFAS are harmful to human health even at minuscule concentrations,’ said Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG vice president for science investigations. ‘Scientific studies show the alarming ways PFAS wreak havoc on human health, wildlife, and the environment. The entire PFAS class of chemicals poses a significant health concern, and should be addressed in its entirety.’ 

In January 2022, scientists in Portugal found that from 2015 to 2020 almost 70 percent of the pesticides introduced by manufacturers used a formula made with fluorinated chemicals. 

‘Maine’s proactive approach in addressing the risks of PFAS-containing pesticides should serve as an example for other states,’ Zhou said.

‘Maine has taken a measured and thoughtful approach to address the prevalent problem of PFAS in pesticides,’ said Heather Spalding, deputy director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. ‘The state is working hard to gather information about the extent of the problem and give pesticide manufacturers ample time to reformulate their products so farm families, farm workers and farmland are protected from further PFAS contamination. At this point, pesticide manufacturers need to answer two simple yes/no questions about whether they include PFAS in their product formulation and whether they store their products in fluorinated containers. The public has the right to know what they’re being exposed to and is demanding a reasonable phaseout of the forever chemicals.'”…