Read the full article by Erin Rhoda (The Piscataquis Observer)

“Most water districts in Penobscot County are not finding ‘forever chemicals’ in their drinking water supplies, but given laboratories can’t entirely rule out their presence, there’s no guarantee the water supplies are free of the toxic chemicals.

Water districts across the state are required to test their drinking water for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, by the end of the year. In Penobscot County, 11 of 12 water districts that manage their own sources of water have gotten back their results. Of those 11 water districts, eight had non-detect levels of PFAS in their drinking water, according to results collected by the state and the Bangor Daily News.

That means it’s possible there are truly no PFAS in the Bangor, Brewer, Corinna, Exeter, Lincoln, Millinocket, Old Town and Orono-Veazie water districts. Or it’s possible there are trace amounts, but the testing technology is not reliable enough to confirm them. 

Three water districts have PFAS: Those based in Newport, Dexter and Patten. Their levels do not exceed the threshold at which they would be required to filter out the chemicals, but they do exceed the recommended level set by the federal government.

Two towns purchase their water from nearby municipalities: Hampden gets its water from Bangor, and Howland gets it from Lincoln. East Millinocket has not yet received its PFAS test results. 

PFAS are a group of thousands of synthetic chemicals linked to many serious illnesses. They are present in a range of household and industrial products to make them resistant to heat, oil, stains, grease and water, and they have contaminated soil, water and food in Maine and beyond.

‘It’s good news, because it’s fairly low even in the ones where there has been some detection. But obviously none is better than some, and that’s clear from the [Environmental Protection Agency’s] health advisory numbers,’ said Jean MacRae, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Maine.

The biggest water districts in the county did not detect PFAS. Bangor owns or protects 98 percent of the forested watershed surrounding its source of water, Floods Pond in Otis, said Kathy Moriarty, general manager of the Bangor Water District.

‘We have a pretty unique, pristine situation with our watershed,’ she said. ‘We are fortunate to have such a protected source of supply.”’

The three water districts with PFAS discovered a specific compound, perfluorooctanoic acid, a likely carcinogen more commonly called PFOA.

Newport found a level of 2.23 parts per trillion of PFOA in the purified drinking water being piped to area homes and businesses. 

The results were surprising to A.J. Newhall, the superintendent of the Newport Water District, because a test of the source of water for the town showed no discernable level of PFOA. The state doesn’t require it, but he went a step further to test Nokomis Pond, which supplies water to 650 connections in Newport and Palmyra.” …