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To read the full testimony of Sharon Treat for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy supporting LD 1911, "An Act To Prohibit the Contamination of Clean Soils with So-called Forever Chemicals" sponsored by Representative William Pluecker before the Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee on January 24, 2022, download a PDF

This testimony is submitted on behalf of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy by Sharon Treat, Senior Attorney, in support of LD 1911, "An Act To Prohibit the Contamination of Clean Soils with So-called Forever Chemicals." IATP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with an office in Hallowell, Maine and other locations. We work closely with farmers to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture and trade policies. We have been following PFAS issues across the country and especially in Maine, where we have taken a strong interest in how PFAS contamination has affected farmers and agriculture.

Maine has been on the leading edge of PFAS policy out of necessity, and this committee deserves tremendous credit for the policies you have already endorsed and moved into law, including mandatory testing of land previously spread with wastewater sludge and industrial
wastes (LD 1600) and the disclosure and ultimate phase-out of PFAS in products sold in Maine (LD 1503). The latter policy is critically important in “turning off the tap” so that PFAS don’t continue to contaminate our water, food, wild game, soils and people. Now, the Legislature
needs to finish the job, and enact LD 1911 so that PFAS-contaminated “biosolids” and compost will not be allowed to continue to be spread and cause future contamination.

The scope of Maine’s PFAS problem. The problem of PFAS contamination in Maine cannot be overstated; it is not hyperbole to call it a crisis. Since the Legislature acted last session, even more residential drinking water wells and additional farms have been found to be contaminated. Farmers have had their livelihoods destroyed or significantly impacted, and they and others have been exposed to toxic substances in their water and food.

A “do not eat” deer consumption advisory has been issued by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for a large geographic area in central Maine. Testing is being undertaken to determine if turkeys and other game are also contaminated. We already know that some fish are contaminated. And we know that the PFAS pollution found so far is just the beginning. Most of the soils, water and farmland in the state haven’t been tested. Maine’s reputation for clean, healthy and sustainably produced food is taking a beating, and pretty soon, word will get out
that game could come with a side of PFAS – damaging a significant part of the state’s natural resource-based economy and likely affecting tourism as well. As a reminder, PFAS exposure has been linked to health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease,
infertility and compromised immune systems, including reduced efficacy for vaccines. It is imperative to get PFAS out of our products, our food, and our environment without delay.

To continue reading, please download a PDF

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