Senator Carpenter, Representative Bailey, and honorable members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Sharon Treat and I live in Hallowell. I am senior attorney for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), on whose behalf I am testifying today in support of LD 2160, “An Act Relating to the Statute of Limitations for Injuries or Harm Resulting from Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.”
IATP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with offices in Hallowell, Maine and other locations. IATP works closely with farmers and seeks to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture and trade policies. We have been closely following the PFAS issue both across the country and in Maine, attending the meetings of Governor Mills’ PFAS Task Force over much of last year and submitting detailed comments on the draft and final Task Force reports.
Maine faces a potentially enormous PFAS contamination problem. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals (as many as 5,000 variations). PFAS are especially persistent in the environment, meaning they don't break down and can bioaccumulate in both humans and farm animals, and have been called “forever chemicals” for this reason. These chemicals are also extremely mobile, easily traveling through soils and groundwater. PFAS exposure has been linked to kidney cancer and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid disease, compromised immune systems, and infertility. PFAS are used in a wide variety of consumer products, including nonstick coatings on cookware and water- and grease-resistant coatings on food packaging, outerwear, and furniture, as well as in firefighting foams.
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