Gov. Janet Mills has asked the Maine congressional delegation to help secure federal funding to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contamination.
Mills wrote a letter to the state’s four members of Congress asking for federal funding and regulation to deal with the “forever chemicals,” the Portland Press Herald reported Wednesday. The compounds have come to be referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and the human body.
In addition to requesting federal funding, Mills asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators to take decisive action, including adding PFAS to the federal list of hazardous substances, setting maximum contaminant levels in drinking water, and investing in research into how the chemicals contaminate plants and animals.
In the letter, Mills outlined some of the steps underway to detect and address contamination including testing water, milk and meat samples as well as treated sewage.
“Our agencies are currently hard at work responding to the emerging threat of PFAS,” Mills wrote. “However, with an infusion of federal funds, Maine could more broadly and aggressively undertake these critically needed actions. Of course, PFAS contamination is not a Maine problem; it is a national problem that ultimately requires a federal response.”
Some of the chemicals have been linked to health problems, including cancer, kidney problems, reproductive dysfunction, immune suppression, high cholesterol and low birth weight.
“Maine is currently on the front edge of PFAS discovery and response, and by having the resources and support in the form of Federal leadership as we navigate this incredibly complex and devastating issue, it will ultimately benefit other states as they begin to grapple with the impacts of PFAS contamination,” Mills wrote.