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Maine is first in the nation to ban spreading of PFAS sludge and compost
AUGUSTA — Maine is the first state in the U.S. to ban the use of industrial and municipal sewage sludge as fertilizer. The Legislature passed LD 1911 April 15 and Gov. Janet Mills signed it into law April 20.
Spread as a soil amendment on Maine farmland over a period of many years, the sludge was the source of widespread contamination from PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as “forever chemicals.” The presence of PFAS has forced family farms to shut down and poisoned drinking water wells. Waldo County farms are among those impacted.
In a February press conference to rally support for the legislation, Adrienne Lee of New Beat Farm in Knox spoke alongside her husband, Ken Lamson, and their daughter about the impacts PFAS is having on their farm and their family. Their well water tested positive for the substances at a level 100 times above safe drinking water standards, Lee said.
The federal EPA has set 70 parts per trillion as the upper threshold for PFAS in drinking water, while in June 2021 the Maine Legislature established an interim state drinking water standard of 20 nanograms per liter for the combined sum of six different PFAS substances: PFOA, PFOS, PFHpA, PFNA, PFDA and PFHxS, according to maine.gov.