Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) are chemicals that are not naturally occurring, are stable and persistent in the environment, biaccumulative, toxic at low concentrations, and easily transferred to groundwater and other media. The chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonate or PFOS are man-made chemicals that became widely used in household products and industrial settings as early as the 1950's. PFOA and PFOS are sometimes referenced in a group of similar chemicals call PFAS.
Both PFOA and PFOS were historically used in firefighting foams due to their effectiveness at quickly extinguishing petroleum based fires. Because they have a unique ability to repel oil, grease, water and heat, these two substances are used in many common products that we use regularly. PFOA and PFOS have been used to make non-stick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and furniture, water-resistant clothing, heat-resistant paper/cardboard food packaging (like microwave popcorn and pizza boxes), and some personal care products.
A Governor's Task Force has been established on the Threats of PFAS Contamination to Public Health and the Environment by Executive Order 5 FY 19/20.
The purpose of the Task Force is to:
- identify the extent of PFAS exposure in Maine
- examine the risks of PFAS to Maine residents and the environment
- recommend State approaches to most effectively address this risk
MEMA is represented on the Governor's Task force and has established an A-FFF foam working group. This group is working to establish a comprehensive inventory of A-FFF Class B firefighting foam. To this end, the Maine State Fire Marshall has sent out a request for information to Fire Service Agencies in Maine.
There is also a survey to capture the information from industry partners.