Read the full article by Melissa Lizotte (Bangor Daily News)

“LIMESTONE, Maine — Although PFAS contamination hasn’t been found in drinking water supplies in the area around the former Loring Air Force Base, the use of a PFAS chemical to put out fires on Loring’s runway has prompted the U.S. Air Force to examine how far the chemical has spread into the natural environment.

Looking into the spread of Aqueous Film Forming Foams, or AFFF, and assessing the potential ecological and human health risks is the latest phase in the Air Force’s investigation into PFAS contamination and will include a public meeting next week for area residents to ask questions.

PFAS substances, also known as ‘forever chemicals,’ have been found in farm soil and animals and in the state’s  wild deer herd, among other places in Maine. It is the state’s largest growing health concern.

Starting in 2015, members of the Air Force’s Civil Engineering Center took smaller samples from 22 major groundwater, surface water, soil and sediment areas at Loring to verify whether AFFF existed. The yearlong study verified the chemical’s existence, so researchers began a more detailed analysis.

While the Environmental Protection Agency mandates that PFAS levels not exceed 70 parts per billion to be deemed safe in drinking water, the Loring investigations have thus far not found fire foam in private wells or public drinking water systems.

Only single-digit parts per billion levels of fire foam have been found in the surveyed sites, according to Val de la Fuente, chief of the Civil Engineering Center’s Eastern Executive Branch.

But the mere presence of PFAS, a group of manufactured chemicals known to cause cancer, birth effects and other health risks, means that the Air Force must conduct a study on how far the chemicals at Loring have spread and how they might be removed, de la Fuente said.

‘Our initial investigation found that 21 of our 22 sites require further investigation,’ de la Fuente said. ‘We have to look at where the water [that drained from the runway fire sites] has gone and how far [the fire foam] has spread. It’s not just drinking water but also soil, sediment, groundwater and surface water.’

The investigation will include at least 1,300 total samples of groundwater, stormwater, surface water, soil, sediment and fish in and around the region now known as Loring Development Authority, a commercial, industrial and aviation park on the site of the former Air Force base.”…