EPA Identifies Fluorinated HDPE Containers as Potential Source of PFAS Contamination in Mosquito Control Product

A hand holding a yellow spray container misting plants with pesticide

February 24, 2021

Agency encourages companies using HDPE containers to assess distribution chains and product stewardship practices

On January 14, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an alert after preliminary investigations indicated that PFAS compounds may have leached from fluorinated HDPE containers and contaminated a mosquito control product. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA has issued a request for information about the fluorination process used to treat the containers. In their press release, EPA additionally asked that "pesticide and other companies using fluorinated containers, and entities that provide container fluorination services, engage in good product stewardship and examine their distribution chains to identify potential sources of contamination."

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) followed EPA with a press release on January 15, stating that they are "moving swiftly to quarantine Anvil 10+10 [a mosquito control pesticide] statewide … launching a comprehensive investigation into the universe and use of products stored in these containers and will take all actions necessary to protect public health and the environment."

Fluorinated HDPE plastic containers are widely used in a vast array of consumer products. EPA has initiated investigations into the source of the contamination, and other states are evaluating whether and to what extent fluorinated compounds may leach from HDPE containers into pesticide and consumer products. EPA and DEC have asked that industry evaluate their containers to understand the potential for leaching and engage in good product stewardship. DEC has stated that they are launching additional investigations and will take any necessary actions to protect public health and the environment.

Further complicating the situation, EPA has not indicated which chemicals may have leached into the mosquito control product from the fluorinated HDPE containers. Under TSCA regulations EPA has stated that they "will use PFAS as an acronym for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances." However, there are thousands of PFAS compounds with a wide range of chemical behaviors and characteristics.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent routinely leverages in-house and third-party laboratory capabilities to help clients understand whether fluorinated substances are present in their products. Exponent's diverse team of materials engineers and health scientists can provide support for product testing, chemical characterization, and environmental and health exposure assessments. Please contact us for additional information on how we can assist you in understanding your risk and exposure to this complicated developing issue.