From Augusta

Maine joins Northeast states to urge federal action on PFAS toxins

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 3:45pm

AUGUSTA — Maine has joined all seven Northeastern states to issue a multi-state letter urging prompt federal action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.

The letter was issued by the members of the Northeast Committee on the Environment (NECOE) which consists of the environmental commissioners from Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and New York, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s, and are (or have been) found in many consumer products like cookware, food packaging, and stain repellants,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “FAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations....”

Maine DEP Commissioner Jerry Reid joined his colleagues, Commissioner Dykes of Connecticut DEEP, Commissioner Suuberg of Massachusetts DEP, Commissioner Scott of New Hampshire DES, Director Coit of Rhode Island DEM, Secretary Moore of Vermont ANR, and Commissioner Seggos of New York DEC, in advocating for swift action by the Congressional PFAS Task Force to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants.

The letter was sent to the Co-Chairs of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, Congressman Dan Kildee and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, as well as Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

While the Northeast has been at the forefront of this issue due to early detection of PFAS contamination, federal efforts have not provided clear standards and guidance for states to address the overwhelming effects of PFAS on human health and the environment. NECOE commissioners highlight five specific matters that need immediate federal action concerning PFAS:

  • EPA should establish a national maximum contaminant level (MCL)
  • PFAS constitute a class of compounds with common characteristics and should be regulated accordingly
  • require EPA to amend its regulations to treat PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under CERCLA and make available low-cost supplemental loans for regional cleanup efforts
  • urge EPA to expedite the development and dissemination of analytical methods and treatment technologies that extend beyond drinking water
  • urge more aggressive and responsible federal regulation of the use of PFAS compounds and other emerging contaminants

Copies of the Task Force letter and Senate EPW letter can be found on Maine DEP’s website at maine.gov/dep/spills/topics/pfas/index.html.