Deer in one region of central Maine are to be considered toxic to humans, according to state wildlife officials.
An indefinite “do not eat” advisory was issued Nov. 24, out of concern people who eat the meat could develop a variety of health problems.
The contaminated deer were found “in the greater Fairfield area,” about 55 miles southwest of Bangor.
Tests showed the animals had “high levels of PFAS,” a human-made chemical that is “resistant to heat, water, and oil,” the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife reported.
Cooking the meat does not rid it of the chemicals, experts pointed out.
“Studies of people who were exposed to PFAS have found links between the amount of chemicals in blood and increased cholesterol levels, decreased response to vaccines, increased liver enzymes, increased risk of high blood pressure ... and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer,” state officials said.
The advisory includes any deer living five miles around the Ohio Hill Road area of Fairfield, because the species is known to travel about a mile and a half a day, if not farther, state officials said.
PFAS were used for decades in products ranging from carpeting to food wrappings, officials said.
High levels have been found on multiple farms in the Fairfield area, due to “the spreading of municipal and/or industrial sludge for fertilizer that contained PFAS,” the state said.
“Deer feeding in these contaminated areas have ingested these chemicals, and now have PFAS in their organs and meat,” officials said.
“Hunters who have already harvested a deer in the area are advised ... to dispose of the deer in their trash or landfill.”