New Testing Finds PFAS-Contaminated Pesticides Used on Food

New Testing Finds PFAS-Contaminated Pesticides Used on Food

Emerging research on a group of carcinogenic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) is painting a concerning picture of the risk the average American may have of being exposed to these dangerous chemicals. Their findings suggest that pesticides used on food crops contain PFAS, which can have life-threatening health implications at certain levels of exposure. PFAS have become an increasingly prevalent issue in product liability claims. 

Until now, the focus has been on repeated occupational exposure or ingestion of contaminated water, such as the Camp Lejeune lawsuits. This new study may provide key evidence for people who have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated food that pursue compensation in product liability claims. A personal injury lawyer who specializes in product liability and has past experience handling claims with PFAS-related injuries can offer the legal insight you need to navigate the personal injury claims process and maximize your compensation.

PFAS in Weed Killers Cause Life-Long Damage

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a group of man-made chemicals associated with various serious health issues, including cancer, birth defects, and organ damage. They are found in many non-stick products, stain-resistant fabrics, and even tampons. Now, studies indicate that PFAS in pesticides are being transferred onto food crops. Over time, they can accumulate to harmful levels in the human body, which is incapable of breaking down the strong carbon-fluorine bond of these forever chemicals

Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact that PFAS can have on their long-term health, and are pursuing compensation for the costs related to their injuries caused by PFAS exposure. The CDC reports that exposure to PFAS may be linked to the following conditions:

  • High cholesterol 
  • Decreased vaccine response in children
  • Liver and kidney issues
  • High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
  • Lower infant birth weights
  • Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer

When chemicals such as PFAS are discovered to have infiltrated the food supply, the implications are highly concerning.

Researchers Report Alarming Levels of PFAS in Pesticides Used on Food Crops

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) partnered with other researchers to conduct a study on the presence of PFAS in pesticides that are used on food crops. The results demonstrated that one of the most widely used pesticides in California contains PFAS, in addition to 2 other commonly used agricultural pesticides. California is the top agriculture-producing state in the U.S., so these results offer valuable insight into the levels of potential exposure.

The significance of these findings is that consumers may be ingesting PFAS on a more regular basis than previously believed because they were not warned that their fruits and produce has potentially been contaminated by defective pesticides. Previous research has demonstrated that crops are capable of absorbing PFAS from pesticides, which are then unknowingly ingested by consumers.

Consumers Are at Risk Due to Inadequate Monitoring of PFAS

There are a few obstacles to keeping consumers from being properly informed of the risk they are taking by ingesting potentially PFAS-contaminated products. First of all, the FDA and the EPA have yet to set limits for PFAS levels in foods or pesticides, despite evidence that researchers have found the levels of PFAS in “Malathion 5EC was over 100,000 times higher than the level the EPA considers safe in drinking water”. Additionally, the monitoring of PFAS  in food only commenced in 2019. 

Despite the limited information available, consumers are entitled to accurate warning labels on the products they purchase. They should also be able to expect that their food and drinking water are free from known carcinogens. Producers and manufacturers have the responsibility to mitigate the potential risks of their products, and when they are negligent they may be held liable for damages in a product liability lawsuit.

Consumers File Product Liability Lawsuits Over PFAS Contamination

Both the government and the private sector are beginning to acknowledge the potential ramifications of their careless attitude toward limiting PFAS exposure. Companies like 3M are eliminating PFAS production, and the U.S. military is under orders to phase out AFFF firefighting foam, a major source of PFAS, within the coming years. Both the government and private companies are responsible for contaminating water sources with PFAS, which has exposed a large number of communities to unhealthy levels of the forever chemicals. 

In many cases, water becomes contaminated around a site that uses a product laden with PFAS, such as AFFF firefighting foam. AFFF is used by both the military and civilian services to efficiently extinguish fires. It is also a known pollutant. For example, in the case of the Red Hill spill, residents near the Kalaeloa airport had to deal with contaminated water after the runoff from AFFF firefighting foam deposited PFAS into their water supply. Residents of communities like these have sought compensation for their damages after developing cancer, 

In addition to environmental exposure to PFAS through AFFF-contaminated water, many plaintiffs in the AFFF product liability lawsuits are claiming occupational exposure to AFFF. Firefighters, airport employees, and members of the military regularly handle AFFF and thus have higher rates of cancer caused by PFAS. Communities dealing with PFAs contaminated water like the Camp Lejeune plaintiffs and those who work in high-risk industries have been at the forefront of civil litigation regarding PFAS, but consumers impacted by PFAS-contaminated food are poised to be the next group of plaintiffs for this issue.

These health conditions can compromise a person’s quality of life, their ability to work, the lives of their children, and even claim their life. Plaintiffs who have sustained these types of financial, physical, and emotional losses are pursuing compensation in product liability claims against AFFF manufacturers, the U.S. military, and other negligent parties. In a product liability lawsuit, the injured party can claim compensation for economic and non-economic damages. The monetary costs a plaintiff sustains can be compensated with economic damages, and the emotional losses can be reimbursed with non-economic damages.

Examples of Damages:

  • Medical bills
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death

As alarming as it is to learn that your food may have been contaminated with PFAS from defective pesticides, that does not mean that you have to suffer from the costs of dealing with your illness alone. You should contact a skilled product liability attorney to learn more about the options you have for legal recourse. They will be able to provide you with more information on what to expect from the claims process, what damages may be compensated, and whether or not you have a viable claim.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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