PFAS Sampling Associated with Closed Municipal Landfill

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

On December 14, 2021 the Town received notice from Maine DEP that sampling recently conducted at the municipal landfill showed high enough levels of a group of man-made chemicals known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the monitoring well groundwater to warrant further sampling in the vicinity of the Town’s closed municipal landfill for the presence of PFAS in groundwater, and if so, to determine whether it presents a risk to public health or the environment. There are thousands of varieties of these chemicals, but of primary concern is whether any drinking water wells are impacted at levels that exceed DEP’s Interim Drinking Water Standard for PFAS including the six chemicals included in Resolve 2021, ch. 82, Resolve, To Protect Consumers of Public Drinking Water by establishing Maximum Contaminant Levels for Certain Substances and Contaminants, Emergency, effective June 21, 2021 and listed below:

  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
  • Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS)
  • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFxHS)
  • Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA)
  • Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)

As early as the 1940's, PFAS (mostly PFOA and PFOS earlier on) became widely used in household products and industrial settings. These chemicals were also 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, PFAS are used in many common products that we use regularly. For example, they 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. PFAS break down very slowly and are persistent in the environment. This means that PFAS may build up in people, animals, and the environment over time. Health agencies are working to understand more about the health effects of low level, long-term exposure. 

PFAS

PFAS are an emerging contaminant of concern at closed municipal landfills and municipalities, as owner/operators, are ultimately responsible for contamination that is associated with their closed landfills. To that end, in 1998, the Maine Legislature created the Landfill Closure and Remediation Program (38 M.R.S. § 1310-C to 1310-H). One of the Program’s objectives is to remediate hazards posed by closed municipal solid waste landfills. The legislation provides a cost-sharing component that generally covers 90% of approved remediation that may be necessary to mitigate impacts resulting from contamination associated with such a landfill. As an example, if residential wells were impacted with elevated levels of PFAS associated with a closed landfill, the municipality can generally be reimbursed for 90% of the costs of the initial sampling and installation of a residential filter system.

The initial step in this process is to determine whether there are PFAS related impacts associated with the landfill in the groundwater drinking water supply wells in the area, which requires the collection of samples. The Town has identified 14 residential properties within 1,000 feet of the closed municipal landfill with private wells for sampling and has initiated outreach to conduct sampling at these locations. 

To better inform Town staff and residents, Maine DEP staff was invited to present information about PFAS sampling at the Monday, January 10, 2022 Town Council meeting, which can be viewed here

To learn more about what Maine and the US EPA are doing about PFAS, please visit the Department’s website.

Data and Guidance

Contact Us

General inquiries regarding PFAS impacts associated with Kittery's closed municipal landfill can be directed to: