Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, have been in the spotlight and are making headlines across the country. These are human-produced chemical compounds containing fluorine and carbon atoms.

PFAS are concerning because of potentially harmful impacts on human health. The chemicals have become a public health concern as they do not readily break down and pose health risks in higher concentrations. PFAS can linger in water and air for thousands of years, landing them the nickname “forever chemicals”. In some cases these chemicals have been found in drinking water and wastewater sludges in Maine and throughout the country.

These substances are a class of manmade chemical compounds that have been manufactured since the 1950’s and are found in everyday consumer products, from sticky notes to shampoo, some types of fire fighting foam and from carpets to food packaging. They have been widely used to make products because of their stain-resistant, waterproof and/or nonstick properties, but are not safe for consumption beyond certain levels.

Studies have found exposure to elevated PFAS levels may cause serious health problems, including cancer, damage to the liver, and immune systems, developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, thyroid conditions and high cholesterol.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) has recommended a combined limit of 70 ppt (Parts Per Trillion) for these chemicals in drinking water. Maine aligns itself with this federal guideline.

The Old Town Water District has taken a proactive approach towards the detection of these chemicals in your drinking water. We have had our water sources tested by an independent laboratory with distinct testing qualifications for the most common PFAS / PFOS compounds using the approved EPA Method 537.

The Old Town Water District is pleased to share with you, our customers that source water samples collected and analyzed for PFAS compounds indicate non-detectable PFAS compounds in your drinking water.

The Maine Drinking Water Program has worked collaboratively with the Department of Environmental Protection to identify public water systems at risk of impacts from PFAS. Governor Mills has also signed an executive order establishing a task force of state agencies and other stakeholders to identify and address sources of PFAS throughout the state. The task force will meet monthly to foster collaboration and develop response strategies not just for drinking water, but also for wastewater, agriculture and industry.

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