PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory Thursday warning about potential toxins in freshwater fish at several locations in the state.
The advisory targets seven bodies of water in the state where fish that have been tested revealed levels of PFAS chemicals above the recently updated recommended levels for regular consumption, Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long said in the news release.
Additional bodies of water are under review, according to the Maine CDC.
PFAS chemicals, or "forever chemicals," are long-lasting and break down extremely slowly over time, according to an explainer from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They can be found in water, air, fish, and soil. Identification of PFAS has been on the rise as detection technologies and funding for testing have been developing, the EPA states, and mitigation and removal strategies are largely nonexistent.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, PFAS chemicals were widely used in household and industrial settings for designated purposes, including "products that resist heat, oil, grease, and water."
Concerns about health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals include but are not limited to decreased fertility, a low-functioning immune response, physical impacts on child development, some cancers, and hormone interference, according to the Maine CDC.
Elevated levels of PFAS chemicals were detected in freshwater fish at the following locations:
- Fairfield -- Police Athletic League Ponds: Do not eat any species of fish
- Fairfield -- Fish Brook, including tributaries, from the headwaters to confluence with Messalonskee Stream: Do not eat any species of fish
- Waterville/Oakland -- Messalonskee Stream from the Rice Rips Dam in Oakland to the Automatic Dam in Waterville: Consume no more than three meals per year of any fish species.
- Limestone -- Durepo Pond and Limestone Stream from Durepo to the dam near Route 229 in Limestone: Consume no more than three meals per year of brook trout and do not eat smallmouth bass.
- Sanford -- Mousam River, from below the Number One Pond Dam to Outlet Dam on Estes Lake, including all of Estes Lake: Consume no more than three meals per year of any fish species.
- Westbrook -- The Presumpscot River, from Saccarappa Falls in Westbrook to Presumpscot Falls in Falmouth: Consume no more than four meals per year of any fish species.
- Unity -- Unity Pond: Consume no more than six meals per year of black crappie and no more than 12 meals per year for all other fish species.
Fishing, wading, swimming, and boating remain safe at these locations, the Maine CDC reported.
"This limited advisory on seven waterbodies is a responsible step in keeping anglers, their families, and friends healthy," Judy Camuso, commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said in the Thursday news release. "We will continue to work with the CDC and other state agencies in order to keep Mainers, visitors, and our fish and wildlife populations healthy."
The CDC encourages everyone to review these advisories as well as additional potential toxins, including mercury and DDT, before consuming fish caught in the state of Maine, which can be reviewed through the Freshwater Fish Safe Eating Guidelines.