Maine officials are warning people who catch and eat fish in seven specific lakes, streams and other freshwater bodies of harmful PFAS chemicals found in fish.
Specifically, the Maine CDC advises people not to consume or limit consumption of some, if not all, types of fish from Unity Pond, Presumpscot River, Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook to Presumpscot Falls in Falmouth. , of the Mousam River below Number One Pond. From the dam to the outlet dam on Estes Lake, including all of Estes Lake, all of Durepo Pond, and Limestone Creek from Durepo to the dam near Highway 229 in Limestone, Messalonskee Creek from Rice Rips Dam in Oakland to the automatic dam at Waterville, Fish Brook, including all tributaries, from the headwaters to its confluence with Messalonskee Creek and the Police Athletic League (PAL) ponds.
Communities affected by the advisory include Fairfield, Waterville, Oakland, Limestone, Sanford, Westbrook and Unity.
According to the Maine CDC, “PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals found in a variety of consumer products around the world. Based on studies of laboratory animals and humansexposure to certain PFAS chemicals has been associated with changes in liver and kidney function, changes in cholesterol levels, decreased immune response to vaccines in children, complications during pregnancy, and an increased risk of kidney cancer and possibly testicular cancer.
The agency also said it “has collected and tested fish from these water bodies for PFAS because they are located where historical PFAS contamination has been found in groundwater, surface water and / or the floors”.
According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, sources of PFAS in the state have been traced to products such as “certain fire-fighting foams” and “various waste streams” such as “sludges and sludges.” or “leachate from unlined landfills”.
An agency website explains that “sludge” is essentially treated sewage that has been spread on “farmland” for its “nutritional value”.
The state says it was a practice that had been practiced for decades and “permitted at the time” because “little was known about PFAS as an emerging contaminant.”
“It really bothers me personally,” said Matt Guertin, a Sanford resident who regularly catches and releases fish on Estes Lake, one of the affected water bodies.
“More people are fishing now than ever before,” he added, explaining that part of his concern about the discovery was how many people in Maine would be affected.
“Once the pandemic hit, more people started taking up new hobbies and fishing was one of them,” said Guertin, who also hoped the state would conduct additional research on PFAS in fish. to see how widespread the problem might be.
In its advisory, the Maine CDC also noted that “fishing in these seven bodies of water remains a safe activity, consistent with consumer advisories, along with other recreation such as swimming, wading, and boating from pleasure”.
The issue of PFAS in Maine fish has also concerned others, both in Maine and beyond.
“We’re in the early stages of identifying PFAS, and I wish I could say I was shocked, but I wasn’t,” said David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. .
“It’s so sad and hard to watch,” he added.
Last Monday, activist Erin Brockovich tweeted about the Maine CDC advisory, saying “it’s not far…they’re showing up on your dinner table.”