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Scientists will test for PFAS contamination in Casco Bay

A Casco Bay Lines ferry leaves Peaks Island on its way to Portland.
Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
A Casco Bay Lines ferry leaves Peaks Island on its way to Portland.

The conservation group Friends of Casco Bay has begun collecting ambient water samples from 20 locations in the bay that will be tested for PFAS contamination by Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences.

Science and advocacy associate Heather Kenyon says the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has found a type of PFAS in the Fore River which feeds Casco Bay and testing is needed to tell if the bay is being impacted.

"DEP found PFOS, which is a specific type of PFAS, in mussel tissue in the Fore River for the first time. If it's in the mussels, it's got to be in the water column or the sediment," Kenyon says.

Kenyon says if PFAS are found in the water samples from 20 locations in Casco Bay, then the source will have to be determined.

Casco Bay is a no-discharge zone for boats. Kenyon says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on track to set water quality limits for PFAS in ambient water bodies, and having the data early will help authorities better respond to FEDERAL standards when they are issued.

Kenyon says Bigelow Laboratories just got the analyzer to detect PFAS in water samples up and running this week. The water samples will be collected over the summer and early fall.