Read the full article by Kevin Miller (Maine Public)

“Maine’s congressional delegation is proposing legislation that would authorize federal grants to states where farms have been contaminated with the ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS.

All four members of the delegation — Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden — are co-sponsoring legislation that was inspired by the growing number of Maine farmers dealing with PFAS pollution on their lands.

The bill would allow states to use federal funds to expand PFAS testing and to pay for health monitoring. States could also compensate farmers for lost income, to help farmers convert to alternative crops or even relocate them if their land is no longer usable.

‘USDA needs to step up and provide support to farmers, who at no fault of their own, are at risk of losing their livelihoods,’ Collins said in a statement. ‘This is not just a problem in Maine – PFAS contamination has been discovered on farms in New Mexico and Michigan, and this problem will only become more evident as testing becomes more readily available. Thus far, the federal government’s response has failed to keep pace with this growing problem.’

Dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ because of their longevity in the environment, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, is a family of thousands of chemical compounds that have been used for decades in many household products. But some of the compounds have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer, kidney malfunction, high cholesterol, low birth weight and reduced vaccine response in children.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is currently testing more than 700 sites around the state that are considered at higher risk for PFAS pollution because they were licensed to receive applications of municipal sludge that may have been contaminated with the chemicals. That testing is ongoing but contamination has been found on more than 40 farms around the state as a result of sludge that was used as fertilizer. Hundreds more private drinking wells – as well as some school drinking water supplies – have since been found to be contaminated.” …