Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a class of about 12,000 chemicals typically used to make thousands of products water-, stain- and heat-resistant. They do not naturally break down and accumulate in humans and the environment. A growing body of evidence links them to serious health problems such as cancer, birth defects, liver disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, high cholesterol and decreased immunity.
Toxic PFAS chemicals have been detected in 7 out of 10 insecticides tested in the US, according to new research. 6 contained what the study’s lead author characterized as “screamingly high” levels of PFOS, one of the most dangerous PFAS compounds.
The study was published amid increased scrutiny of PFAS in pesticides because of the potential for widespread food and water contamination. Multiple studies have established that crops uptake PFAS and can be ingested by humans.
“We know PFOS is a carcinogen, we know it’s a deadly chemical and there’s no safe level in drinking water,” said Kyla Bennett, a former EPA official and science policy director with the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which issued a press release on the study.