PFAS chemicals raise questions about water safety
By Shawn P. Sullivan | Seacoast Online | November 15, 2019
Read full article by Shawn P. Sullivan (Seacoast Online)
“ARUNDEL/SANFORD – An environmental group is saying that water testing results in a recent report from the Maine Center for Disease Control are adding to concerns about the health risks posed by PFAS chemicals throughout the state.
‘These highly toxic chemicals don’t belong in anyone’s drinking water supply. State action is needed to protect our water and food supply from these toxic chemicals,’ Mike Belliveau, the executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center in Portland, stated in a press release.
In a draft summary presented to the state’s PFAS Task Force in October, the CDC reported that it detected PFAS chemicals in 9 of 19 water supplies that it recently tested. Supplies located at mobile home parks in both Arundel and Sanford were among them.
On Thursday, the CDC said the detected levels of PFAS in Arundel and Sanford and other locations are ‘well below’ the Environmental Protection Agency’s Health Advisory of 70 parts per trillion – the current standard by which the government determines if action regarding the chemicals may be warranted.
‘Based on current federal guidance on potential health risks associated with PFAS in drinking water, these results do not cause any new concerns about safety,’ Robert Long, the communications director for the CDC, said earlier this week…
According to the CDC, two kinds of PFAS chemicals, totaling a concentration of 5.39 parts per trillion, were found in the water supply at Charter Oak Mobile Home Village at 8 Allen Avenue in Arundel.
Also, in Arundel, the CDC found two kinds of PFAS chemicals, with a concentration of 4.87 parts per trillion, at The Pines at Arundel, a mobile home park at 714 Alfred Road.
In both cases in Arundel, PFOA was one of the two compounds and a nearby landfill was identified as a potential source of the PFAS…
In Sanford, the CDC detected one PFAS, a PFOS compound, with a total concentration of 2.22 parts per trillion, in the water supply for the Estes Lake Mobile Home Park. Here, the CDC believes the potential source to be the local airport.
‘The site was selected because of its proximity to an airport because firefighting foam used at airports has been identified generally as a possible source of PFAS,’ Long said. ‘The choice was not made because of any documented spill or contamination at the airport, simply the general assumption that the likelihood of PFAS presence would be higher in a system near an airport.’
The Maine CDC Drinking Water Program tested the 19 supplies because of their proximity to potential sources of PFAS contamination, such as airports, landfills and paper mills…
Following the advocacy group’s press release and the media reports, Sanford Water District Superintendent David Parent noted that water at the Estes Lake Mobile Home Park is privately provided and sought to clear up any confusion and reassure the public of the safety and the quality of the supply his district provides.
‘Sanford’s water is safe to drink,’ Parent said. ‘It meets or exceeds all EPA and Maine Drinking Water Program health standards’…
Parent said that the Federal CDC, the EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection investigated the positive sample taken from the well.
‘No source of contamination was found in the area, and it was suspected that the issue could even be possibly due to materials in the construction of the well that may contain the trace levels of PFAS,’ Parent explained. ‘Because the well was offline and the district had no intention of utilizing it, no further investigation was conducted.’
Parent noted that PFAS is an unregulated contaminant but added that the district ‘certainly would not put the well online, given concern over PFAS’…
PFAS made news in Arundel earlier this year when public health advocates held a press conference at Stoneridge Farm. Local farmer Fred Stone said that he never knew that the wastewater sludge that he was licensed by the state to spread on his fields there and other fields across York County contained PFAS. Stone said that the presence of PFAS in the sludge ‘ruined’ his 100-year-old farm, affecting his ability to sell milk and causing him to lose money.
In an email this week, Patrick MacRoy, the deputy director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, reiterated that more needs to be done to address issues related to PFAS throughout the state.
‘Unfortunately, we have only begun to explore the extent of the PFAS problem,’ MacRoy said. ‘Relatively few water supplies in Maine have been tested, and the state has yet to test most of the agricultural lands that were contaminated by PFAS-laden sludge. In addition to polluting the groundwater, this contamination may also be contaminating crops and animal feed, allowing PFAS to enter our food supply. The state must take aggressive action to uncover where we are being exposed to PFAS.'”
This content provided by the PFAS Project.