A brand new federal report recommends extra folks obtain assessments to verify PFAS ranges of their blood, however these assessments aren’t but extensively out there from Maine well being care suppliers.
The suggestions from the Nationwide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Drugs, launched Thursday, advise medical suppliers to supply PFAS blood assessments to individuals who reside or work in areas contaminated by the dangerous “without end chemical compounds” which have been linked to a wide range of well being issues.
These standards apply to huge swaths of Maine, however the state’s largest well being care organizations typically don’t extensively provide PFAS blood assessments to their sufferers.
Whereas sufferers wait probably months or years for the nationwide suggestions to immediate adjustments at their native well being care amenities, it might be extra beneficial to check water sources for PFAS, stated Dr. Dora Anne Mills, chief well being enchancment officer of MaineHealth, which incorporates hospitals in southern, western and midcoast Maine and affiliated medical practices.
“Over half of individuals in Maine get their ingesting water from a personal properly, so folks may wish to think about testing their water for PFAS, notably in the event that they reside in an space the place PFAS might need been used,” Mills stated. “We don’t have any treatment for PFAS in your blood proper now, however you’ll be able to scale back your publicity. I’d be far more involved about getting my properly examined as an alternative of my blood.”
MaineHealth’s NorDx Laboratories solely conduct PFAS blood assessments for analysis functions, Mills stated. They’re not but out there to sufferers.
Brewer-based Northern Mild Well being doesn’t provide PFAS testing to its sufferers, in line with system spokesperson Derek Hurder. He stated the hospital community is “monitoring these new suggestions carefully” however didn’t say whether or not Northern Mild will start providing PFAS testing to sufferers.
Penobscot Group Well being Care, which runs clinics within the Bangor space, Belfast and Jackman, doesn’t but have sufficient scientific steering to launch a PFAS testing program for sufferers, spokesperson Kate Carlisle stated.
The company’s lab is awaiting extra steering on protocols and testing for PFAS from state officers.
And MaineGeneral Well being, based mostly in Augusta, conducts some PFAS testing, however the brand new report is not going to instantly change how the group assessments sufferers, in line with spokesperson Pleasure McKenna. MaineGeneral will await well being authorities to suggest adjustments, which may come because of the Nationwide Academies report launched Thursday, she stated.
The Maine Heart for Illness Management and Prevention’s Well being and Environmental Testing Laboratory doesn’t have the potential to check blood or different substances for PFAS, however the Nationwide Academies’ report will inform the state on whether or not to determine a PFAS blood testing program, spokesperson Jackie Farwell stated.
The lately handed state finances contains funding for the Maine CDC’s labs to determine PFAS testing capability in Maine, and the CDC is working to find out which substances might be examined to finest defend Maine folks’s well being, Farwell stated.
These may embody blood, fish and sport, crops, dairy milk, or different agricultural merchandise.
Within the meantime, Farwell stated Mainers ought to consider their private danger components for PFAS publicity and converse with their well being care suppliers in regards to the potential advantages and harms of blood testing.
The Nationwide Academies’ report recommends docs work with sufferers discovered to have excessive ranges of PFAS of their blood to scale back their publicity to the chemical compounds and prioritize screening for PFAS-related well being issues.
The consultants who wrote the report anticipate native testing capability will improve as demand for it grows, stated Marc-Andre Verner, a member of the Nationwide Academies’ Committee on PFAS Testing and Well being Outcomes and a professor on the Universite de Montreal.
Till testing turns into extensively out there, nonetheless, Verner stated the report shouldn’t instill concern in communities uncovered to PFAS.
“I feel it addressed fears already present in communities which can be conscious of PFAS contamination,” Verner stated. “Hopefully, these suggestions assist alleviate these fears or assist folks get the testing they deserve in some areas.”