Pesticide found to contain ‘forever chemicals’


For the Gazette
Published: 6/1/2021 8:36:15 PM

Anvil 10+10 is a pesticide that has been used for mosquito control in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. The product purportedly contains only Sumithrin and Piperonyl butoxide.

According to the state’s Mosquito Control and Spraying Fact Sheet, the Anvil 10+10 has a half-life of less than one day in the environment, has been determined not to cause an “unreasonable risk” to birds or mammals, and is effective in killing mosquitoes. It also notes that the product is toxic to land-dwelling and water-dwelling invertebrates like beetles and dragonflies as well as fish.

In December of 2020, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reported finding that a sample jug of Anvil 10+10 they analyzed was contaminated with PFAS.

Known as “forever chemicals” PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) do not break down in the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS persists in the human body for long periods of time and can affect infant birth weights and the immune system, elevate cholesterol levels, and cause thyroid and hormone disruption as well as cancer.

Once alerted, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection independently tested samples of Anvil 10+10 and confirmed the presence of PFAS.

According to the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board, between August and September of 2019, before this discovery was made, 2,048,865 acres in cities and towns in the southeastern and central part of the state were treated with 9,939 gallons of Anvil 10+10 in six aerial applications costing $5,085,636.

In August of 2020, a total of 178,823 acres were aerially sprayed with 985 gallons of Anvil 10+10 in towns in Bristol and Plymouth counties.

Current investigations surmise that PFAS leached into the product from the fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers in which the pesticide was packaged.

The manufacturer, Clarke Mosquito Control Products of Illinois, has voluntarily stopped shipment of any products in fluorinated HDPE containers, has transitioned to PFAS-free containers, and is directing its customers not to use Anvil 10+10 packaged in plastic containers.

Asked what product might now be used by the state for mosquito control, Craig Gilvarg, deputy communications director of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said that the state will initiate a review of common products used in adulticide applications to determine which is best to use in the event of a public health risk from EEE.

Once products are reviewed, considerations are submitted to the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board for additional review and decision.

As there are many ecological and human health unknowns surrounding pesticides, and because difficulties sometimes fly under the radar as they did with the PFAS contamination of Anvil 10+10, Easthampton City Council member Owen Zaret stresses the importance of being careful and vigilant about the use of pesticides.

“We really have to be thoughtful about protecting the environment, our pollinators, native species and human health as we discuss the diseases carried by mosquitoes and the pesticides used in mosquito control,” he said.

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