Toxic PFAS chemicals are being sprayed on crops across the country

Chemicals linked to cancer shouldn't be anywhere near our crops and the fields where we grow our food.


Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

New research has detected toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in 7 out of 10 insecticides tested in the U.S.

These dangerous substances, linked to cancer and other serious health issues, shouldn’t be anywhere near our crops and the fields where we grow our food. PIRG has been making steady progress toward getting PFAS out of more of our products and calling on decision-makers to require reductions in PFAS use.

PFAS chemicals stick around forever

PFAS (short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they stick around, quite literally, forever. They’re man-made and made to last — meaning that when they inevitably seep out into the environment, they stay there, accumulating both in volume and in the level of danger they pose to our health.

So, when these chemicals get taken up by food crops via one of the several “widely used” pesticides that have been found to contain PFAS, they have a good chance of making their way to the grocery store — and eventually into our bodies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected them in fruits and vegetables and yet hasn’t established any limits.

This is an urgent public health threat — and in order to get local, state, federal and corporate decision-makers to start addressing PFAS contamination head-on, we need to keep raising our voices by the thousands to call for action.

It’s time to ban toxic PFAS

Back in June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tightened its advisory health limit of one type of PFAS, PFOS, in drinking water to just 0.02 parts per trillion (ppt) — a level so low that it suggests no amount of exposure to the compound is safe.

The EPA has known about PFAS contamination in pesticides (one test estimated the level of a particular PFAS compound to be 19 million ppt) for nearly two years. But the agency has been inexplicably slow to act.

The good news: We’re seeing in real time how the action and advocacy of citizens like you is forcing more decision-makers to start paying attention.

After we helped win a commitment from Burger King to stop using PFAS in its food wrappers, what’s stopping us from getting the FDA to set standards for PFAS levels in all our food? And after 48,000 Americans called on Columbia Sportswear to get PFAS out of its outdoor gear, who says we can’t add thousands more voices in the months ahead, making our call impossible to ignore for manufacturers of all types?

That’s in addition to significant progress we’ve made at the legislative level, with more states banning PFAS from various consumer products and the EPA taking action to curb PFAS pollution in our waterways.

These crucial steps toward a toxic-free future rely on the citizen support of people like you. Will you make a donation right now to ensure we have the resources we need to keep winning progress on PFAS?

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Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Danielle Melgar

Food & Agriculture, Advocate, PIRG

Danielle works to ensure our food system produces enough nutritious food to feed everyone, without threatening our health, the planet, or the ability of future generations to grow food. Danielle lives in Chicago, where she enjoys staying active in the outdoors, trying out new recipes, and writing short stories.

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