The front page story Jan. 23 regarding the “forever chemicals” in the PFAS/PFOA family was interesting, but deficient in one important way. It failed to mention the fact that a public hearing was held Jan. 24 at the Environment and Natural Resources Committee of the Maine Legislature to discuss LD 1911.

LD 1911 is a critically important bill because it closes two major loopholes in current law regarding application of contaminated sludge on our private lands. It’s amazing to me that, after all the controversy regarding contaminated wells and even venison, we are still allowing these chemicals to enter our food sources via application of contaminated municipal sludge.

Yet, there it is: Current law allows contaminated sludge to be mixed with recipient soil that “tests clean,” as long as the resultant mix doesn’t exceed the screening threshold.

Also, current law allows sludge to be sent to composting facilities and subsequently sold to farmers and even at retail for home gardeners.

The first loophole ignores the fact that the screening threshold is rather arbitrary. Indeed, it’s my understanding that the threshold for drinking water has been shifted downward recently. It seems likely that other screening standards will follow suit.

The second loophole ignores the high likelihood that compost containing “safe” levels of PFAS will be applied repeatedly to the same acreage. Since these chemicals don’t break down in such environments the levels will gradually become higher and higher. And water in nearby wells will suffer the consequences.Gregory D’Augustine, MD, Greene

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