Mainers Beating the Heat End Up With Unknown Gunk on Their Feet

People who had their feet stained at Maine beaches described the black material as being similar to ink or oil

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Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection is investigating how the feet of some southern Maine beachgoers turned an inky black color after the beach was covered in an undetermined substance over the past couple of days.

That's according to the Parks and Recreation Department in York. A post on its Facebook page quotes Maine DEP spokesman David Madore saying the state received “an inquiry from a concerned citizen in southern Maine who noticed ‘a black residue’ on the sand at a local beach.”

Madore said that “DEP staff followed up with site visits to beaches in York, Wells and Ogunquit where reports of the residue was observed. Staff is currently collecting samples for processing however we do not believe this is oil or a petroleum based product that has washed up onto the effected beaches. DEP is working with other state agencies to try and identify the cause, our investigation is ongoing.”

NECN visited beaches in both Wells and York on Tuesday and found people who had both not seen the substance or had it affect them. People who had their feet stained described the black material as being similar to ink or oil.

A week after a rowdy crowd gathered at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, police are concerned the group may gather again.

Kim Hurst, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, was visiting Long Sands Beach in York on Monday when said she found the substance on her feet. She used baby wipes to remove it.

It did not deter her from returning to the beach a day a later, but she is also pleased the state is trying to determine what the substance is.

“I’m happy they’re looking into it, they should be looking into it,” she said, adding that she hopes the cause is found, to “diminish everybody’s concerns.”

Other people who reported having their feet stained said the substance did not come off immediately, even after scrubbing with soap and water.

The Town of York’s announcement referencing state officials did not immediately say when state officials would provide an update on their investigation.

Maine has been experiencing sweltering heat, with record daily high temperatures reported in parts of the state, including Caribou, Millinocket and Houlton.

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