April 24, 2023

MDIFW NEWS: Department Significantly Reduces Size of Fairfield Area PFAS Wildlife Consumption Advisory Area

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), in conjunction with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), has issued a revised PFAS wildlife consumption advisory in the Fairfield area that reduces the size of the current PFAS advisory area by 80%.

The reduced advisory area (map of new advisory area) is based upon the PFAS testing of 60 deer and 51 wild turkeys harvested throughout and just outside the previous advisory area. The testing results from these animals showed that only animals harvested near the most highly contaminated fields had PFAS levels that warranted a consumption advisory. The deer were collected this past August and September, and the turkeys were collected over the past 15 months.

MDIFW is issuing a do not eat advisory for deer and turkey that are in this 25 square mile area that encompasses parts of Fairfield and Skowhegan, reducing the former 125 square mile advisory area that was set in place in November of 2021. The MDIFW and the Maine CDC recommend that no one eats deer or wild turkey harvested in this 25 square mile area.

This advisory area encompasses multiple farm fields that have been contaminated by high levels of PFAS through the spreading of municipal and/or industrial sludge for fertilizer that contained PFAS. Deer and turkey feeding in these contaminated areas have ingested these chemicals and now have PFAS in their meat and organs. For more information on PFAS and wildlife, please visit our website and FAQ.

"We are fortunate that we are able to significantly reduce the size of this advisory area and provide some reassurances to those who hunt in the greater Fairfield area," said Commissioner Judy Camuso. This could not have been done without the support of farmers and landowners in the Fairfield area, and a dedicated staff. We all are very grateful.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used for decades in a variety of household and consumer products, including non-stick cookware, carpet, waterproof clothing, and food packaging products such as pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags.

Known as forever chemicals since they are very slow to break down, PFAS persist in the environment and are found in soil, water, plants, and animals. Over time, exposure to these chemicals have been known to increase the risk of some types of cancer, decrease infant and fetal growth, increase cholesterol levels, and impair the immune system.

Under the leadership of Governor Mills, the state has taken extensive action to address PFAS contamination, including over $100 million over the past three years to address PFAS issues, including the testing of fish of wildlife, as well as establishing drinking water standards, funds to assist impacted farmers, providing safe drinking water, establishing wastewater sludge testing requirements and eliminating the land spreading of contaminated sludge among others.

PFAS in the Fairfield area were first discovered through the routine testing of milk samples, which revealed high levels at a Fairfield dairy farm. Since that time, increased testing has revealed multiple fields, farms, wells, and waters in the area that have elevated high levels of PFAS.

If you have questions about possible health effects from eating deer harvested in the advisory area, please contact a toxicologist at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 866-292-3474 (toll-free in Maine) or 207-287-4311.

The Department plans to continue to work with the Maine CDC, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry concerning PFAS and testing. The Department will continue to test deer, fish and other wildlife in the area and beyond, to try and determine the extent of PFAS in Maine's wildlife. The MDIFW and the Maine CDC will update advisories as needed.

New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin are states that have also issued consumption advisories concerning PFAS and deer. New Hampshire and Wisconsins advisories are for non-consumption of the liver, and does not include meat. For more information on PFAS, please visit the Maine DEP PFAS informational page (https://www.maine.gov/dep/spills/topics/pfas/index.html), or the Maine CDC informational page (https://www1.maine.gov/dep/spills/topics/pfas/Maine-CDC-PFOS-PFOA-Exposure-Factsheet-09.23.2020.pdf)

If you have more questions, please visit our PFAS Advisory page, or contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 207-287-8000, or IFW.PFAS@maine.gov