PFAS task force convenes for first meeting

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HALLOWELL, Maine (WABI) - As more is known about PFAS chemicals, they have garnered greater concern both nationally and here in Maine.

The Governor Mills-assigned task force to study the issue met for the first time Wednesday.

"The task force is a really important step forward with respect to the state of Maine really starting to put their arms around the subject area of PFAS contamination," said Nancy McBrady, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources, under the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

PFAS are a family of chemicals that aren't biodegradable like other chemicals, leaving them in the environment.

"It's very challenging," said Jerry Reid, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection. "It's got a lot of different dimensions to it, and I think the idea is to get all of the stakeholders in one place so we can work together to try to come up with some responsible strategies."

They're found all over the economy, from non-stick cookware to cleaning products to paints.

"Unfortunately, because they don't break down, they're finding their way into waters -- groundwater, surface water, in some cases drinking water, our soil," said Reid. "And so, we need to get a handle on where the contamination is, where the pathways that pose the greatest threat to human exposure are, and how to reduce those and address them."

PFAS can potentially affect many industries, notably the agriculture industry.

"Farmers just want to know what the status is, and whether or not there are things that they need to be taking into consideration with their farming practices, etc," said McBrady. "So that's where we're going with this -- to try and help them out and find a path forward."

The task force will be meeting monthly, and the meetings are open to the public.