STATEWIDE — Lawmakers are pushing to increase testing and removal of dangerous chemicals found in Maine’s water.
According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a group of man-made chemicals that adversely affect human health.
On Tuesday, state lawmakers said those chemicals have been found in drinking water systems across the state.
“The contamination is our ground and it’s in our water. As a farmer, I have the personal experience of someone who depends upon the safety and purity of our land and water for our livelihood. As a representative of my district, I know that I cannot be party to any decision that jeopardizes the health of the children and families of our district,” Rep. William Pluecker, I-Warren.
He presented a bill that requires each community and noncommunity water system to send samples of its water to an approved laboratory to be tested before December of 2022.
“We cannot afford to set a level much lower than 20 parts per trillion because of the pervasiveness of PFAS in the world and we don’t have the filtration capability to ensure that we can get every water supplies’ levels that low. However, by setting the level at 20 parts per trillion we know that we can protect our citizens from excessive contamination,” Pluecker said.
He added there’s strong science showing that 20 parts per trillion is the proper testing standard to meet for Mainers‘ health, as it is a level that can be reached with proper filtration.
A supporter of the bill said it’s important for water statewide to be tested and cleansed of PFAS because the chemicals can cause low infant birth weights, adverse effects on the immune system, and cancer.
“It has shown up in schools, daycares, and other drinking water systems. Failure to act promptly to regulate this contaminate threatens the health of both of Maine residents and visitors of Vacationland,” said Sharon Treat, the senior attorney at the institute of agriculture and trade policy.
The bill will have to pass within the committee on health and human services before it can begin the process of becoming state law.