On January 14, 2022, IATP submitted comments on rules proposed by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control to require disclosure by pesticide manufacturers about whether their products contain Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), and to ban storage in containers that can leach PFAS into pesticides. This is a first-in-nation attempt to begin regulating PFAS being introduced into the environment through pesticide use.
As we have been documenting, states are facing hard choices following widespread and continuing PFAS contamination of water, soils and farmland. In Maine, farmers have had their livelihoods destroyed or significantly impacted, and they and others have been exposed to toxic substances in their water and food. PFAS exposure has been linked to health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, infertility and compromised immune systems.
In our comments, we emphasized the importance of the proposed regulations and encouraged the board to exercise the full extent of its legal authority — of which it has a great deal — to protect the public, the state’s natural resources, and farms and food from PFAS contamination. In just the last few months in Maine, even more residential drinking water wells and a third farm has been found to be contaminated. In addition, a “do not eat” deer consumption advisory was issued by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for a large geographic area in central Maine, and testing of turkeys and other game is now underway.
Maine’s proposed pesticide regulations are an important first step, but more needs to be done, something anticipated by a report commissioned by the Legislature which could be the basis for additional legislation in 2022. IATP’s comments on the proposed rulemaking focused on the disclosure requirement and the need to ensure that the PFAS declarations are public information. We also supported the broad definition of PFAS incorporated into the regulation and requested that the affidavit required of manufacturers include information about PFAS in adjuvants (substances added to a pesticide product or pesticide spray mixture to enhance the pesticide's performance or physical properties of the spray mixture), as well as PFAS resulting from contamination during manufacturing. With respect to the PFAS-free container requirement, we asked that pesticide storage or distribution in any container that is fluorinated and marketed for pesticide storage be banned.
The Maine Legislature has several PFAS-related bills currently before it, including one to close loopholes allowing continued land application of sludge and compost contaminated with PFAS. We will be following this legislation and additional proposals to regulate pesticides throughout 2022.