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The price of PFAS: ‘Forever chemicals’ generate boundless costs

Dec 20, 2022

Widespread contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) “has the potential to impose an unsustainable burden on state and private resources,” the Maine PFAS Task Force wrote three years ago. The weight of that burden from widely dispersed toxic chemicals is now becoming clear in multiplying expenses and costs that defy calculation.

Governmental and utility funds committed to date for early-stage PFAS research and remediation in Maine are estimated to exceed $200 million, according to documents reviewed and inquiries made by The Maine Monitor. Those expenditures represent a small portion of the full economic, ecological and societal impacts (including medical expenses, given the many harmful health effects linked to these industrial chemicals).

Maine has not undertaken a statewide assessment of PFAS costs incurred to date or anticipated. A full accounting across all levels of government and economic sectors could illuminate what long-term impacts PFAS will have on government budgets and taxpayers, and might support legal efforts to recover damages.

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