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Maine CDC Issues Advisory on Eating Freshwater Fish from Seven Waterbodies

MAINE, May 5 - Back to current news.

May 5, 2022 Human Services

AUGUSTA- The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) today issued new freshwater fish consumption advisories on seven waterbodies in Maine. The new advisories come after testing of fish in these locations found levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) above Maine CDC's recently updated recommended levels for regular consumption (PDF). As noted below, the advisories recommend limiting or eliminating consumption of all fish or certain fish species from these waterbodies.

Elevated levels of the PFAS called perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) were detected in fish samples from the Police Athletic League Ponds and Fish Brook in Fairfield, Messalonskee Stream in Oakland and Waterville, Durepo Reservoir and Limestone Stream in Limestone, sections of Mousam River and Estes Pond in Sanford, Unity Pond in Unity, and the lower Presumpscot River in Westbrook. The new fish consumption advisories apply to game fish caught in these waterbodies:

Area Waterbody Consumption Advisory
Fairfield Police Athletic League (PAL) Ponds Do not eat any species of fish.
Fairfield Fish Brook, including any tributaries, from the headwaters to the 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 All of 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 The 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.

"As we continue to learn more about the health impacts of PFAS, these advisories reflect the best current science," said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. They focus on specific areas where higher levels of these chemicals have been detected.

Maine has over 6,000 lakes and ponds, and over 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. This limited advisory on seven waterbodies is a responsible step in keeping anglers, their families, and friends healthy, said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Fishing is extremely popular, providing healthy outdoor recreation for roughly 360,000 people who are licensed to fish in Maine. 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.

Fishing in these seven waterbodies remains a safe activity, in accordance with the consumption advisories, along with other recreation such as swimming, wading, and boating.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals found in a variety of consumer products throughout the world. Based on studies of laboratory animals and humans, exposure to certain PFAS chemicals has been associated with changes in liver and kidney function, changes in cholesterol levels, decreased immune response to vaccines in children, complications during pregnancy, and increased risk of kidney cancer and possibly testicular cancer.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collected and tested fish from these waterbodies for PFAS because they are located where historical PFAS contamination has been found in groundwater, surface water, and/or soils.

In addition to the waterbodies mentioned above, Maine CDC is reviewing data from several other waterbodies where elevated PFOS levels in fish tissue have been found. Testing for PFAS in those waterbodies may not result in consumption advice more restrictive than the existing statewide advisory due to the presence of mercury in fish or other waterbody-specific advisories. The Maine CDC recommends that anglers review all existing fish consumption advisories on Maine waters.

Maine CDC is consulting with the DEP and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to develop plans for additional sampling of fish as part of the states ongoing investigation of PFAS.

The Mills Administration has taken an aggressive and nation-leading approach to addressing PFAS contamination in Maine. Upon taking office in 2019, Governor Mills convened a PFAS Task Force that has led to the establishment of an interim drinking water standard for PFAS; screening levels for PFAS in soil, wastewater, fish tissue, and milk; containment and reporting requirements for firefighting foam containing PFAS; as well as wastewater sludge testing requirements. Governor Mills has also signed into law legislation that prohibits the spreading of PFAS-contaminated sludge on land in Maine, that bans the use of PFAS in food packaging, and that expands the statute of limitation for Maine citizens to file claims for PFAS contamination. The Mills Administration, with the support of the Legislature, has also dedicated more than $100 million over the past two years to address PFAS, including $60 million for a PFAS Trust Fund to help impacted farmers and $30 million for PFAS remediation that includes $10 million to for farmers, $15 million to provide safe drinking water, $5 million for environmental testing, and $5 million for managing PFAS-contaminated waste. The State of Maine also continues to expand its testing of land, water supplies, and wildlife.

For more information about the fish consumption advisories and PFAS, please go to:

Maine CDC PFAS Fish Consumption Advisory FAQ (PDF)

Maine CDC PFAS Technical Support Document (PDF)

Maine Department of Environmental Protection PFAS page