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Regulators must do more testing of harmful ‘forever chemicals’ | READER COMMENTARY

Pat Elder holds results for PFAS water testing behind his home on St. Inigoes Creek. a tributary of the St. Mary's River in southern Maryland. File. April 22, 2020. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

The Maryland Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be commended for initially suspending use of the mosquito spray, Permanone 30-30, and for retesting for harmful PFAS “forever” chemicals before resuming its use (“Maryland to resume use of pesticide after EPA testing doesn’t detect PFAS,” Oct 3).

EPA testing of this product did not detect any of 28 specific PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, in its recent samples. However, there’s still cause for concern — there are over 9,000 PFAS for which the samples were not tested. PFAS presence in the earlier sample of Permanone and the detection of PFAS in 11 mosquito products in Massachusetts indicate a need for regular monitoring and testing of similar products to assure public safety.

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Exposure to PFAS has been linked to such health effects as kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver toxicity, increased cholesterol and lower birth weight. Of greater concern during the pandemic is a decreased response to certain vaccines and a greater risk of COVID-19 infection and severity of disease (ICU admission and death) in association with higher urine and blood levels of certain PFAS chemicals.

Other pesticides have been allowed to include PFAS as an active or inert ingredient and a substantial body of research has also identified many adverse health effects in association with pesticides. The unknown synergistic impacts of PFAS and pesticides also require study to evaluate the risks of their combined exposure.

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To ensure the safety of Marylanders of all ages, the EPA and MDA need to be proactive in evaluating widely used pesticides for PFAS to identify products that pose increased risks for public health. The persistence of these forever chemicals in the environment and in the human body requires a preventive approach and an abundance of caution.

Michael Ichniowski, Baltimore

Bonnie Raindrop, Baltimore

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