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High PFAS levels found in drinking water throughout Maine, according to latest state report

Forever Chemicals-New Hampshire
Jim Cole
FILE - In this Friday Jan. 7, 2011, file photo, water flows from a water fountain at the Boys and Girls Club in Concord, N.H. The New Hampshire Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, to several bills meant to address concerns about contamination in the state's drinking water from a class of toxic chemicals known collectively as PFAS.

State testing of public drinking water systems for PFAS, or "forever chemicals" has found at least six schools have levels higher than the state standard of 20 parts per trillion. Brooklin Elementary School and Deer Isle Stonington High School both had PFAS levels above 100 parts per trillion from tests performed in April. School Union 76 Superintendent Dan Ross said he's meeting with his school board Wednesday night to discuss the installation of a filtration system for each school affected.

"My goal is to have that remediated by the time the kids are back, leaving us time to test water once filtration system installed. The only hold up is supply chain issues and worker shortage. But we're on it," Ross said.

Other Maine schools pursuing treatment for elevated PFAS levels in drinking water are Mt. Desert Island High School, Chebeague Island School, Unity College, and Washington County Community College. The state's Small Public Water System Emerging Contaminant Grant program can help school districts cover eligible project costs of up to $60,000.

Sunny Gables Senior Citizens Home in Glenburn found levels at 148 parts per trillion. That's more than seven times higher than the state standard. A spokesperson for Sunny Gables said engineers have been consulted and bids to implement a water filtration system are going out.

The Parker Ridge Retirement Community in Blue Hill is looking at levels of 40 parts per trillion. Parker Ridge Executive Director Tim Chandler said the facility was built on farmland 30 years ago, and residents are using bottled water until a new filtration system is installed.

"It's old farmland. Who knows how long PFAS has been here. It's just a new test. The state says we needed to be 'A' and we're 'B' so we have to mitigate," Chandler said.

Health officials said people in communities whose wells are contaminated with PFAS are advised to drink bottled water.