PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances)
- 8/15/2022: The District and Authority released a press release detailing the release of the updated EPA health advisory levels and our intent to further characterize PFAS levels with a comprehensive monitoring program.
- 3/2/2023: District and Authority released a press release (Spanish version) outlining 2023 PFAS testing results and recommend actions. Additionally, all customers received a direct notice detailing this information (Spanish version).
- 6/14/2023: District posted this webpage and included additional information regarding the EPA’s proposed PFAS draft regulation.
As part of our commitment to providing safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water to our customers, we have been voluntarily testing your drinking water for a group of unregulated man-made chemicals of growing concern known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
What are PFAS?
PFAS are a group of more than 5,000 man-made chemicals that have been used in everyday consumer products and industry since the 1940s. They grew in popularity because of their ability to resist oil, water, and stains, reduce friction, and withstand extreme temperatures. There are PFAS chemicals in everyday products including ski wax, nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant textiles, cosmetics, and firefighting foams. They are also used in industries that include aerospace, automotive, construction, and electronics.
PFAS are extremely stable compounds because they are made of very strong carbon and fluorine bonds. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down over time and therefore can get into our water, soil, air, and food during production and use.
Health Risks of PFAS
Concerns over human health impacts began to surface in the early 2000s, and although manufacturing of some of these compounds have been phased out, their resistance to degradation allows them to persist in the environment and build up in the human body.
The scientific understanding of PFAS is still evolving and research is ongoing to determine how different levels of exposure to different PFAS can lead to a variety of health effects. Currently, there is strong evidence that two PFAS compounds, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), impact the immune system, increase cholesterol, decrease infant birth weight, and cause changes in liver function. There is moderate evidence that PFAS compounds are associated with preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy and causes effects on thyroid hormones. There is also evidence that PFOA increases the risk of kidney and testicular cancer.
Voluntary Sampling Results
The district and authority are public water systems regulated under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The EPA sets legal limits on over 90 contaminants in drinking water, and our drinking water has and continues to meet all federal and state Primary Drinking Water Standards. Refer to our annual Consumer Confidence Reports for details on the quality of your drinking water.
PFAS are not currently regulated under the SDWA. However, the EPA proposed a draft PFAS National Primary Drinking Water regulation in March 2023. As part of the draft regulation, the EPA is proposing a regulatory enforceable maximum contaminant level for PFOA and PFOS individually at 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt). We expect to be able to fully comply with the proposed rule when it takes effect.
Water sample results show that PFOA and PFOS are present in some of our drinking water sources:
What should you do to reduce PFAS exposure?
You do not need to stop using tap water. People who are concerned can reduce exposure from drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula by using water treated by an in-home water treatment filter that is certified to lower the levels of PFAS, or use water that has been treated with reverse osmosis. Use tap water for bathing, showering, brushing teeth, washing hands, watering yards, washing dishes, cleaning, and laundry. Boiling, freezing, or letting water stand does not reduce PFAS levels.
EPA and CDPHE do not recommend bottled water because CDPHE cannot verify that all bottled water is below PFAS health advisories. If you choose to use bottled water, CDPHE recommends choosing a brand that has been treated with reverse osmosis and includes this language on the bottle. Reverse osmosis is a treatment that removes PFAS.
You can also reduce exposure by reducing your use of household and everyday consumer goods that contain PFAS. For a list of PFAS- free products, visit https://pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products/.
If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor. An information sheet, “Talking to Your Health Care Provider about PFAS,” is available at https://bit.ly/PFAS-doctor.
Next steps to address PFAS
Public health and providing high quality drinking water is our top priority. We are partnering with CDPHE to continue to assess PFAS levels in our source and treated drinking water through additional testing and evaluation, researching emerging treatment methods to reduce PFAS levels through comprehensive master planning, and protecting our source water from additional pollution. As we learn more, we will continue to update our customers with our ongoing PFAS monitoring data and response to this issue on this webpage.
For additional information regarding PFAS in drinking water and health information, visit http://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas-health or http://www.epa.gov/pfas. Contact district customer service with any questions or concerns at 970-477-5451 or [email protected].