Sunny Gables Elderly Housing Apartments on Hudson Road in Glenburn. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Drinking water from a Glenburn senior apartment complex has some of the highest levels of PFAS found in Maine drinking water so far as water systems and other facilities conduct state-required testing for so-called forever chemicals.

A water sample from Sunny Gables Elderly Housing Apartments on Hudson Road collected on April 1 had 148 parts PFAS per trillion parts water, more than seven times the current state standard of 20 parts per trillion.

The facility is “pursuing treatment,” according to the state’s drinking water program, but what it’s doing remains unclear.

Sunny Gables manager Susanne LeVasseur declined to comment on Monday. 

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Sunny Gables offers 24 income-based one- and two-bedroom apartments to seniors ages 62 and older with disabilities, according to the Maine State Housing Authority. 

It’s among hundreds of apartment complexes, schools, child care facilities and public drinking water systems across the state that are required to test their drinking water for PFAS by the end of this year under a state law passed last year. Results from many facilities and drinking water systems are still not available, according to the state’s running list of test results.

Of the results reported as of mid-August, only one spot, the Houlton Mobile Home Park, recorded higher PFAS levels than Sunny Gables, with a test result of 183 parts per trillion. The state requires that facilities and water systems with test results higher than 20 parts per trillion take action to address their high PFAS levels.

PFAS chemicals, which have been used for decades in manufacturing for products such as food packaging, non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing, have been linked with a number of health problems, including certain types of cancer, a weakened immune system and pregnancy complications. The testing is one of a number of steps being taken as Maine tries to come to terms with the extent of PFAS contamination that has built up over decades, as the chemicals are notoriously difficult to break down.

Sunny Gables is located next door to Glenburn Elementary School, which tested its water in July, according to Superintendent Richard Modery. 

The school’s water, which comes from a private well, fell under the state’s threshold of 20 parts per trillion, Modery said, but the school is exploring ways to further reduce the amount of PFAS in the water. 

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“We’re committed to providing safe water for our students.” 

The testing that’s happened so far has revealed that water from three Hancock County schools has some of Maine’s highest levels of PFAS, spurring the schools to install new filter systems last month before students started school.

Tests at the three schools from the spring found PFAS levels as high as 85 parts per trillion at Mount Desert Island High School, 106.6 parts per trillion in Brooklin Elementary School and 122.8 parts per trillion at Deer Isle-Stonington High School.

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...