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Action Alert: Support Legislation to Protect Farms and Farmland from PFAS

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals including PFOA, PFOS and others which are very persistent in the environment and in the human body. PFAS have been produced and used in a variety of products and industries since the 1950s, ranging from food packaging to firefighting foam. Studies suggest that these chemicals may have significant negative effects on the human body.

The presence and persistence of PFAS contamination is an emerging national issue, and the unfolding information about PFAS in Maine is alarming, especially for farmers whose livelihoods are connected to the land. PFAS enter agricultural soils through a variety of means, but one major source of PFAS contamination in Maine has been the application of industrial or municipal sludge, sometimes called biosolids, on farmland. That means that the application of sludge by farmers who were unaware of the presence of PFAS in the sludge has led to the contamination of at least four family farms and hundreds of residential wells. This number will likely only increase as the state ramps up testing of farmland. Since PFAS are persistent in the environment, the application of sludge containing PFAS decades ago can still impact PFAS levels in the soil today and can build up over time. Learn more about PFAS in Maine agriculture on our website.

We must ensure that our farm businesses and our farmland in Maine are adequately protected from PFAS contamination. LD 1911 would ensure that screening levels are either updated or established for all PFAS substances to protect clean soils from PFAS contamination, and prohibit the land application or distribution of sludge, or compost derived from sludge, if it does not meet those updated screening levels. The bill would also ensure that the sludge intended for land application is tested annually.

Take Action: Protect Farmland from PFAS

The Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee will be holding a hearing on LD 1911 on Monday, January 24th at 9am. Please consider submitting written testimony and/or signing up to deliver oral testimony in support of the bill HERE. Once there, select “public hearing,” select the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the date of the hearing (January 24th at 9am), and the bill title (LD 1911 – An Act to Prohibit the Contamination of Clean Soils with So-called Forever Chemicals). You will then be able to upload written comments and/or sign up to provide live testimony. If you have any questions, you can always email the ENR clerk, Marianne MacMaster, at enr@legislature.maine.gov.

You could also contact the members of the ENR Committee to express your support for LD 1911. The members of the Committee include:

Sen. Stacy Brenner, Chair (D-Cumberland): Stacy.Brenner@Legislature.Maine.gov
Sen. Richard Bennett (R-Oxford): Richard.Bennett@Legislature.Maine.gov
Sen. Anne Carney (D-Cumberland): Anne.Carney@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Ralph Tucker, Chair (D-Brunswick): Ralph.Tucker@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Art Bell (D-Yarmouth): Arthur.Bell@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Lydia Blume (D-York): Lydia.Blume@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Victoria Doudera (D-Camden): Victoria.Doudera@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Lori Gramlich (D-Old Orchard Beach): Lori.Gramlich@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Jeffery Hanley (R-Pittston): Jeff.Hanley@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Beth O’Connor (R-Berwick): Beth.OConnor@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Will Tuell (R-East Machias): Will.Tuell@Legislature.Maine.gov
Rep. Stanley Zeigler (D-Montville): Stanley.Zeigler@Legislature.Maine.gov

Questions? Reach out to Ellen Stern Griswold, Policy & Research Director: egriswold@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Sign up for Policy & Action Alerts here.

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