Wednesday, June 12, 2024

PFAS in ProcellaCOR?

Eurasian watermilfoil

Minnesota’s PFAS report

A Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s report on pesticides gained unexpected traction in the Adirondack Park in recent weeks after opponents of a plan to use herbicide in Lake George figured out the report identified the herbicide’s active ingredient as PFAS.

A large and diverse group of chemicals, PFAS is an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Also known as “forever chemicals,” some types have been found to cause harm to human health or the environment.

Minnesota in 2023 passed a new set of laws limiting PFAS in cleaning supplies, pesticides and other consumer products, adopting a definition of PFAS broader than any other governmental body.

The report went through the list of pesticides registered  in Minnesota and identified which active ingredients met the state’s new PFAS definition — any chemical “containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.”

Read the report here. 

They found 95 active ingredients meeting the definition, including the active ingredient of ProcellaCOR, Florpyrauxifen-benzyl. But when they evaluated the same list using the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of PFAS (which tracks more closely to the standard used in New York), they found six active ingredients qualified under that definition. ProcellaCOR was not among the six.

“We talk about how this is more broad and captures more chemicals than other definitions of PFAS being used,” the report’s lead author Kate Hall told me in a recent interview. “This is a report for Minnesota and our laws on PFAS — it’s very state specific.”

People unsure about the wisdom of using a chemical in Lake George, though, say the fact it met Minnesota’s definition merits a deeper look from New York regulators.

Read the story here.


Two men by the water

DOH Commissioner James McDonald was in Lake Placid last week to shoot promotional videos, encouraging people to go fishing, but also to follow his departments fish-eating guidelines. Photo by Mike Lynch.

My colleague Mike Lynch met up with state Health Commissioner James McDonald on Lake Placid last week to discuss the Department of Health’s fish consumption guidelines.

Lynch reports:

McDonald said fish consumption is safe, but warned: “If you eat too many fish over a lifetime, then you might absorb chemicals that accumulate. That could cause problems.”

The recommendations are geared towards two populations. One is the general population. The other is the sensitive population, which includes women under 50 because of their potential to get pregnant and children under 15.

The advisory is mostly geared toward the sensitive population, according to the state Department of Health (DOH). It advises them to avoid eating more than one meal (eight ounces) a month from its “best choice fish” list that includes yellow perch, brook trout, bullheads and several other species. It advises against eating more high risk species at all. This group includes lake trout, bass and walleye.

Eating too many fish with mercury can lead to developmental problems for children, and that is considered the greatest risk. However, people in the general population can accumulate too many contaminants over time and also suffer ailments.

The recommendations for the general populations are still restrictive and range between one and four meals per month except for walleye over 19 inches. DOH says people shouldn’t eat those fish.

McDonald said anglers and others who intend to eat fish should visit the DOH’s website to read the full advisory.


graphic showing fish safe to eat

A chart with advice for people who want to eat fish they catch in the Adirondacks. Illustration courtesy of DOHA chart with advice for people who want to eat fish they catch in the Adirondacks. Illustration courtesy of DOH.

Photo at top: A Eurasian watermilfoil fragment, the Adirondack Park’s most pervasive aquatic invasive plant and the center of debate around Lake George. Explorer file photo.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

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