Colorado faces an emerging public health challenge from a group of chemicals scientifically called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances or “PFAS” These chemicals are often found in toxic firefighting foam and other consumer products. These chemicals may cause various health impacts. To help communities learn if residents are at risk, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is offering free testing to public drinking water systems.
Since 2012, 94 systems in Colorado have tested their treated drinking water. Only a few systems in the Colorado Springs area found drinking water above the health advisory for PFAS established by EPA. All have acted to reduce or eliminate that exposure.
As a public water system, you can take this opportunity to show your customers that you are taking steps to ensure their water is safe by testing for these chemicals, at no cost to you.
How does it work? The program can be broken down into three simple steps.
Step One - Apply for sampling: All community water systems and non-transient non-community water systems are eligible for free testing. We encourage water systems to sign-up regardless if you have tested for PFAS before. Applicants will be selected for testing based on demand and proximity to possible PFAS sources. Funds for the program are limited, so please apply online for your sample kit as soon as possible.
Step Two - Take the sample(s): Once public water systems are selected through the application process, they will receive a sample kit and instructions on how to sample for PFAS. The system will be provided with mail-return packaging free of charge.
Step Three - Share the results: We will share the results with you and publish them on our website. We encourage water systems to share the results with their customers. The department is currently following the federal health advisory so if testing shows levels above that, they will coordinate with the water system to promptly notify the public and identify options to reduce exposure. However, the department is evaluating whether to modify this approach.
As new studies become available, our understanding of the health effects of these compounds in humans will continue to grow and may influence our response protocol. Our response protocol may also change to align with the PFAS Narrative Policy Work Group efforts and drafted proposal; a proposal the Water Quality Commission decides on. Please visit the PFAS Narrative Policy Work Group webpage to learn more about how the department is evaluating different PFAS compounds.
Who has applied so far?
See who has applied for program funding so far using the link below. Note, this dashboard reflects public water systems that have signed up to take advantage of this funding. Systems on this list may have previously sampled for these chemicals or plan on doing their own sampling. Should you have questions about a specific public water system sampling effort, please contact them directly. We also encourage systems to contact us if they have sampled for PFAS recently or plan to sample for them soon.