County AG Report: PFAS

County Ag Report: PFAS
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 8:34 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - PFAS are becoming a bigger issue across the state. After running a story a couple weeks ago on the subject, Rob Koenig looked further into the issue. He came across some of the important work done by a UMaine extension professor and has more details in this week’s County Ag Report.

“PFAS refers to a whole host of chemicals, and it’s a whole family of chemicals. It’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. And so it’s a whole huge family of compounds. And really, they are everywhere and in terms of being used, in a variety of different products.”

PFAS are being discovered on more farms across the state. Rick Kersbergen is an extension professor at the University of Maine. While the majority of his work has been with dairy farms, his research into PFAS came up when a farm he was working with tested positive for the chemical in their milk supply.

“The reason I got into this, is to try and help that one dairy farm that I’m working with, that is now shipping milk and what really came to me is the fact that we’ve worked extensively with this dairy farm for probably 15 or 16 months, and you know I saw that family, which is a farm family, and I saw that family really trying to deal with this issue, and they ended up having to dump their milk for 13 months before we were able to get them back shipping milk legally on the truck again. And seeing the joy, and actually seeing those farmers cry when that milk truck backed up to their farm to ship milk again, you know that’s what makes my job worth wile, in terms of trying to find ways to help farmers understand what’s going on, and also to potentially some of the issues they’re dealing with.”

These issues can face more than just dairy farms. Different types of crops can also contain the chemical. While research has been done into corn, and showed that pfas do not show up in the corn itself, but rather the leaves and stalk, other crops have yet to be researched to see how PFAS effect them. If this is something you’re concerned about with your land, Kersbergen had some tips for finding out more information on the chemicals.

“The takeaway is, looking at and finding out where biosolids have been applied in your area, or if they’ve been applied on your farm. If they’ve been applied on your farm and you’re concerned, you potentially should contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protections to see if you can get your well water tested as well as your soil tested once spring conditions arrive.”

For more information on PFAS, make sure to check out Rick’s article on his findings so far. You can also find more information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

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