DACF retail milk testing for PFAS confirms Maine milk supply is safe; high PFOS level detected on one central Maine farm

July 24, 2020

For more information contact: Jim Britt at (207) 287-3156

AUGUSTA, ME - Today, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced the detection of Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in milk from a central Maine dairy farm that exceeds the State of Maine's PFOS action threshold of 210 parts per trillion (ppt). Three separate on-farm milk samples taken in late June and early July detected PFOS at 12,700, 14,900, and 32,200 ppt.

This farms milk was tested as a result of DACFs second round of state-wide retail milk testing for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This survey demonstrated that Maines retail milk supply continues to be safe for consumption, with nineteen of the 20 retail samples returning results that were below the laboratorys reporting limit of 25 ppt. DACF investigated one retail milk sample with a 65.7 ppt result, and, with cooperation from the milk processor, was able to trace the source directly back to the farm in central Maine. The farm is no longer producing milk for consumption and is not contributing to the milk supply.

"Our testing approach allows us to identify and investigate potential issues of concern before they can become a problem, so we can ensure that retail milk in Maine is safe," commented Amanda Beal, DACF Commissioner. At the same time, the State is committed to helping farmers who may be impacted by PFAS contamination to find a viable path forward to continue farming and producing products that are safe for people to consume.

DACF and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are investigating the potential source(s) of PFOS and other PFAS on the farm, including historical activities and site-specific attributes that might affect test results. Samples of livestock feed and water have already been collected and submitted for analysis. Additionally, because the farm produces beef, as a precautionary step, DACF has asked the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a PFOS action threshold for beef. Once established, this action threshold will allow for on-farm testing to occur and further understanding of PFOS impacts in this arena. The farm may not currently sell its cattle or any beef products.

DACF is working collaboratively to research, develop, and implement PFAS response strategies with other state and federal agencies, local governments, industry organizations, and other stakeholders. DACF is advocating for additional sources of federal funding and support to assist farmers who face financial hardship from lost production caused by PFAS contamination. DACF is conducting its next retail milk test this fall.

About PFAS

PFAS are a large group of human-made fluorinated chemicals that became widely used in household products and industrial settings as early as the 1950s. There are over 4,000 compounds that have been identified as PFAS to-date, including PFOS. Learn more.

Maine PFAS Task Force

Since the Mills administration took office, Maine has moved to actively expand testing and monitoring for PFAS. In January 2020, the states PFAS Task Force, convened by Governor Mills during her first year in office, released its report to the Legislature. Decisive Task Force recommendations include protecting foods produced in Maine from PFAS adulteration through restrictions on PFAS uses, restrictions on the agronomic utilization and land application of PFAS-containing residuals, investigation and remediation of PFAS contamination, and expanded testing of agricultural produce and products grown and/or raised in soils where residuals have been agronomically utilized. All PFAS Task Force documents, including the Final Report, are available at https://www.maine.gov/pfastaskforce.