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Maine Discovers New Toxic PFAS Contamination in Drinking Water

Environmental Health Strategy Center
10.30.2019

‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Water Supplies Serving Towns, Schools and Mobile Home Parks in Arundel, Fayette, Georgetown, Lisbon Falls, Livermore Falls, Mexico, Sanford, and Topsham

AUGUSTA--The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented a new report to the Governor’s PFAS Task Force on Tuesday that showed 9 out of 19 public water supplies tested contained toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)—the same dangerous chemicals reported to have contaminated the milk and cows of an Arundel dairy farm earlier this year. PFAS are linked to various cancers and liver and kidney dysfunction.

In response to the latest findings, Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Portland-based health advocacy group the Environmental Health Strategy Center, issued the following statement:

“The most recent drinking water test results add to the growing concern about the public health threat posed by PFAS, the so-called ‘forever chemicals,’ These highly toxic chemicals don’t belong in anyone’s drinking water supply. State action is needed to protect our water and food supply from these toxic chemicals.

In this most recent round of PFAS testing, Maine CDC targeted 36 public water systems located near potential sources of PFAS and offered to pay for the cost for testing.

The recent tests found a total of 7 different PFAS compounds in 9 out of 19 public water systems tested, which serve the towns of Lisbon and Mexico; three schools in Topsham, Georgetown and Fayette; and four mobile home parks in Arundel, Livermore Falls and Sanford. Click here to see a summary of the test results.

Shockingly, another 17 public water systems near potential sources of PFAS refused to allow testing for PFAS even at state expense—including several schools and a daycare, where young children drink the water every day.  Those public servants displayed an unforgivable disregard for children’s health and local residents, and must immediately reverse course.  (See list below of public water systems that refused to test for PFAS.)

The total levels of PFAS found in the public water supplies tested raise public health concerns, and ranged from 2 to 26 parts per trillion (ppt). Some independent scientists have argued for a total PFAS limit of no more than 1 ppt. New Hampshire has adopted Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for only two of these compounds, 12 ppt for PFOA and 15 ppt for PFOS. These levels were approached in the recent Maine CDC testing, with Lisbon reporting 10.2 ppt of PFOA and Pejepscot School in Topsham reporting 5.2 for PFOS. Maine has no MCLs for any PFAS.

PFAS are highly toxic, readily spread throughout the environment, and never break down in the environment—hence the name “forever chemicals.” Despite the strong science showing their harms to human health, PFAS continue to be widely used in firefighting foams, food packaging, floor waxes, stain-resistant rugs and carpets, and many other consumer products with non-stick, water-repellent or grease-resistant properties.

To protect public health and our environment from PFAS, Maine should:

·      Require mandatory testing of public drinking water systems for PFAS and report the results to the public, and expand testing of residential drinking water wells for PFAS

·      Investigate farmland where PFAS-contaminated sludge from the paper industry and sewage treatment plants was spread, which polluted Stoneridge Farm in Arundel

·      Turn off the tap by phasing out all current uses of PFAS in favor of safer alternatives

We look forward to similar recommendations emerging from the Governor’s PFAS Task Force by the end of this year.”

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The Environmental Health Strategy Center works for a world where all people are healthy and thriving, with equal access to safe food and drinking water, and products that are toxic-free and climate-friendly.

 

List of 17 Public Water Systems that Refused Testing
for PFAS at State Expense:

Five schools and a daycare center located near potential sources of PFAS contamination refused free testing:

·      MSAD 06 Buxton Center Elementary School

·      MSAD 06 Frank Jewett School

·      MSAD 31 Enfield Station Elementary

·      RSU 03 Troy Central School

·      RSU 19 St. Albans Consolidated School

·      Big Cats Catering – Tiny Tykes Daycare

Three towns near potential sources of PFAS contamination refused free testing:

·      Corinna Water District

·      Guilford-Sangerville Water District

·      Rumford Water District

Seven mobile home parks near potential sources of PFAS contamination refused free testing:

·      Begin Trailer Park

·      Boudreau Trailer Park

·      Cedar Haven Mobile Home Park

·      Marshwood Estates

·      West Village Mobile Home Park

·      Maple Ridge Mobile Home Park

·      Silver Lake Estates

One industrial facility near a potential source of PFAS contamination refused free testing:

·      McCain Foods Inc. Cold Storage