An update from Senator Chloe Maxmin
Proudly representing the people of Senate District 13
You’ve likely heard a lot of talk lately about PFAS. Known as “forever chemicals” because they break down so slowly, PFAS have been in use since the 1940s and are found in common items like household cleaning products, food packaging (including the lining of pet food bags), cosmetics, stain-resistant upholstery and carpet, and more. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until recent years that we began to discover how potentially harmful these chemicals are.
Maine farms have been particularly hard-hit because it used to be common practice to spread sludge containing PFAS over farmland as a fertilizer. Farmers were assured at the time that this was completely safe. What we’re finding now is that even organic farms that haven’t used sludge in years are still contaminated with these chemicals. Meanwhile, PFAS have spread into groundwater, sometimes affecting people who live near these farms, as well as local wildlife.
In the Legislature, we know this is a problem that needs to be addressed right now, and we’ve been taking action. Last session, we passed a law to fund 17 positions at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to begin testing farmland and adjacent domestic properties for PFAS contamination. We also passed a new law that will prohibit the sale of products containing PFAS by 2030, exempting products where the chemicals are considered to be unavoidable.
Additionally, Maine Farmland Trust and MOFGA are jointly administering a PFAS emergency relief fund to support any farm dealing with potential contamination. This fund is meant to serve as a safety net for farms, providing interim support from initial PFAS testing until they can access DACF’s longer-term PFAS support programs. Click here to learn more.
Maine is one of the first states to get serious about testing for and addressing PFAS contamination. I’m proud that once again, we’re leading the way, and I’m proud to be cosponsoring many of the measures that seek to address this problem. But I know there’s a lot of work ahead of us to protect our state’s farms and natural resources.
For more information on what the state is doing to address PFAS contamination, you can visit www.maine.gov/dep/spills/topics/pfas/.
For specific questions, you can email the Department of Environmental Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 287-5842. You can also view the UMaine Cooperative Extension’s guide by clicking here.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.