EPA Seeks to Prevent Use of 12 PFAS Chemicals in Pesticide Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently initiated a proposal focused on removing several per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the approved list of inert chemical ingredients used in pesticide products. This proposal aligns with the Agency’s mission and ongoing efforts to protect human health and the environment. In this blog post, we consider the role played by inert ingredients in pesticides. We also look at the chemicals proposed for removal from the list.

Pesticide Active and Inert Ingredients

While the word "pesticide" is used most frequently to denote insecticides, the term encompasses all pest-controlling substances (including algicides, biocides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, and more). Pesticide products are comprised of both active and inert ingredients.

  • Active Ingredients

    • Pesticide active ingredients are used to destroy, repel, or otherwise manage pests of various types. Such ingredients may be classified as antimicrobial, biopesticidal, or conventional.
    • Antimicrobial -- Substances used to kill dangerous microorganisms (e.g., viruses, bacteria) or hinder their proliferation
    • Biopesticidal -- Substances that are derivative of certain natural components
    • Conventional -- Substances not otherwise classified as antimicrobial or biopesticidal ingredients
  • Inert Ingredients

    • In general, pesticide inert ingredients refer to any intentionally added substances in a pesticide that are not considered to be active ingredients. Such ingredients are essential in helping to manage a pesticide’s effectiveness. Key functions may include:
    • Facilitating application
    • Improving penetration
    • Improving safety
    • Increasing overall shelf-life
    • Preventing degradation

Proposed Removals

Characterized by a chain of carbon and fluorine atoms linked via strong carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS are synthetic chemical compounds that are highly resistant to degradation. These substances have been found to yield a diverse range of harmful health effects.

The 12 PFAS chemicals proposed for removal from the approved pesticide inert ingredients list are shown in the table below.

Chemical NameCAS Registry Number
Ethane, 1,1,1,2,2-pentafluoro-354-33-6
Hexafluoropropene, polymer with tetrafluoroethylen25067-11-2
Montmorillonite-type clay treated with polytetrafluoroethylene---
Poly(difluoromethylene), α-chloro-ω-(1-chloro-1-fluoroethyl)131324-06-6
Poly(difluoromethylene), α-chloro-ω-(2,2-dichloro-1,1,2-trifluoroethyl)-79070-11-4)
Poly(difluoromethylene), α-(2,2-dichloro-2-fluoroethyl)-, ω-hydro-163440-89-9
Poly(difluoromethylene), α-fluoro-ω-[2-[(2-methyl-1-oxo-2- propenyl)oxy]ethyl]-65530-66-7
Poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), α-hydro-ω-hydroxy-, ether with α-fluoro-ω-(2-hydroxyethyl)poly(difluoromethylene) (1:1)65545-80-4
Propane, 1,1,1,2,3,3,3-heptafluoro-431-89-0

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

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