Maine Stocks PFAS-Contaminated Ponds with Fish, Issues 'Do Not Eat' Warning

Maine Stocks PFAS-Contaminated Ponds with Fish, Issues 'Do Not Eat' Warning

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The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife continues to stock Fairfield's PFAS-contaminated fishing holes near the youth athletic complex on Industrial Drive with hatchery-raised brook trout, despite high levels of forever chemicals.

State fisheries director Francis Brautigam maintains that the fish are intended for recreational purposes and not consumption, emphasizing the presence of consumption advisories.

Scientists and public health advocates question the decision to encourage fishing in known contaminated waters, as the state's aquatic toxicology unit has determined that healthy brook trout can absorb unsafe levels of a particularly toxic forever chemical within a month.

Fairfield, known for having some of the highest forever chemical concentrations in Maine, has been significantly impacted by the state-licensed use of sludge as an agricultural fertilizer, affecting groundwater, private drinking wells, and even milk produced at local dairy farms.

Tests conducted in 2021 and 2022 revealed high levels of PFAS chemicals in the Fairfield pond water and fish, with a brook trout sampled in 2021 having a PFOS level five times the state's "do not eat" limit.

Further tests showed that stocked trout rapidly absorbed PFOS from the pond water, reaching unsafe levels within a month.

While the state prints warnings on its website and in fishing license law books, the ponds are primarily used by children who do not require permits, and warning signs posted by the town have been inadequate or illegible.

Environmental advocates argue that the situation is unacceptable, even with proper warnings, believing that people should not have to choose how much contamination they can tolerate by consuming locally caught fish.

Despite the contamination concerns, the ponds remain a popular spot for children to fish and play, with many unaware of the potential risks associated with the water quality.

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