UNITY — Local farmer Adam Nordell knows a thing or two about PFAS contamination as he discovered over the winter that his own farm here was contaminated. He now brings that knowledge and his desire to help other farmers to Defend Our Health, based in Portland, as its new campaign manager.

Nordell said he first became aware of the organization Defend Our Health when he discovered PFAS contamination in his farm and began working with the organization to help push legislation to protect farmers in the 2022 legislative session.

According to a press release from Defend Our Health, Nordell and other PFAS-impacted farmer peers played a critical role in the passage of LD 1911, which was a first-in-the-nation bill ending the use of industrial and municipal sewage sludge as fertilizer. They were also instrumental in helping pass LD 2013, which provides $60 million in funding, research and medical monitoring to farmers who have been impacted by PFAS contamination.

“Adam (Nordell) was integral to the passage of two major PFAS bills this session,” Defend Our Health’s Director of Advocacy Sarah Woodbury said in the release. “He could have easily focused solely on the impacts to his farm and his family; instead he spoke out and organized his community to fight to protect others and to provide resources to those impacted by PFAS contamination. His personal experience, skills and passion for this issue will make him a vital member of the team and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome his to the Defend Our Health Family.”

Nordell said the campaign manager position is a newly created position that he sought out due to needing a job after he and his family made the decision to stop farming their land.

“We are not interested in producing contaminated food,” Nordell said. “I am not interested in exposing my family, or other families to the exposure risks.”

Nordell and his family had previously run Songbird Farm in Unity.

Nordell said his official title will be campaign manager for contaminated farmland and that the job will consist of working with other farmers to help drive the organization’s policy approach going forward and to advocate at the state level for the bills passed during the 2022 session. He said the goal will be to come up with ways to clean up the environment while making sure farmers in the state are taken care of.

He said his main focus will be on ensuring the bills passed in 2022 will be implemented going forward.

“The proof is in the pudding in how laws get put into action,” he said.

The PFAS issue is a national and global problem, Nordell said, and he touted the work of the state in moving to resolve the issue.

“Maine is doing a great job taking responsibility for the issues,” he said, adding that he recently attended a conference in North Carolina where the PFAS issue was discussed, and he said people from all over the country are thrilled with what has been accomplished in Maine.

Nordell said he is grateful for the position and is excited to work with the team at Defend Our Health.

“This is a talented group of people advocating for public health,” he said, adding, “Maine is going to have the cleanest food supply in the country if we keep pushing forward.”