The Maine Senate on Thursday voted in favor of a proposed $100 million-dollar fund designed to help farmers affected by contamination from the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. 

The state is testing for the industrial chemicals, which don’t break down in the environment and are linked to serious health problems, at hundreds of sites that were licensed to be treated with sludge fertilizer years ago. This sludge or “biosolids” can contain high levels of PFAS. 

Contamination that’s turned up so far has halted business and raised health fears for a growing number of farmers across Maine. This proposed fund could help cover their medical costs, pay for research into remediation or alternative crops, or be used to buy or sell land where needed. 

The legislature is also considering a separate bill that would ban the use of sludge fertilizer altogether unless it can be deemed free of PFAS levels that the state deems unsafe.