To date, there is no national regulatory standard for PFAS chemicals that public water systems need to test for. Under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), the EPA periodically requires selected public water systems across the country to gather data on a list of contaminants to help determine if they should be regulated in the future. The 2012 list included two PFAS chemical compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), in addition to four other PFAS chemicals, which water systems monitored from 2013-2015. As a result of this monitoring, public water systems across the United States detected PFAS chemicals, including systems in Colorado.
Prior to the 2020 drinking water sampling project, around 100 public water systems in Colorado had tested their treated drinking water for PFAS. Only a few systems found PFAS levels above the health advisory. All have acted to reduce or eliminate that exposure. Because much of Colorado has not been tested yet, the state initiated the 2020 drinking water sampling project.
In May 2016, the EPA released a health advisory of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for combined PFOA and PFOS. The EPA develops health advisories to provide information about substances that can cause human health effects and are known (or anticipated) to occur in drinking water. When PFOA and PFOS chemicals are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations are compared with the health advisory level. It is possible that some other PFAS chemicals, such as PFHpA, PFHxS, PFNA and PFBS, may have health effects similar to PFOA and PFOS.
Health advisories are not enforceable regulatory standards but they provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water.
Sites found chemical levels above health advisory
Below is a list of entities that have tested groundwater and have found PFAS chemical levels, specifically PFOA and PFOS, above the health advisory. Additionally, the state tested PFAS levels statewide in drinking water and rivers and groundwater through the 2020 Sampling Project. For any resident who lives by potential sources and uses well water for drinking, cooking food that results in the consumption of a lot of water (like soup or rice), or for watering vegetables, we recommend you test your groundwater. Potential sources of these chemicals include military bases, fire stations or training centers, airports, landfills, industrial sites, car racetracks, and ski resorts. Learn more about testing for, and treating for, these chemicals in well water at our drinking water webpage.
Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District
Found high PFAS chemical levels at a groundwater well at one of the district’s stations. All residents located close to the station have been notified.
Buckley Air Force
Found PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells on the base. Potential off site migration will be investigated. The public will be notified prior to investigation. No public water systems are known to be impacted. Remedial measures will be taken after the extent of contamination is determined.
Found high PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells on and off the base. All residents located near the base have been notified of the on base contamination and well sampling events that occurred off-base. No public water system has been impacted. Base is currently in the process of cleaning up the contamination and notifying off base impacted well owners of PFAS concentrations. No one was or is drinking the water- the wells are only used for irrigation.
Peterson Air Force Base
Found PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells on the base. All residents located near the base have been notified. Public water systems were impacted and are now treating for the chemical; PFAS chemical levels are below health advisory in treated drinking water. Base is currently in the process of cleaning up the contamination.
Schriever Air Force Base
The base found PFAS in surface water in a lagoon. They are planning to begin sampling in neighborhoods next to the base in July 2020.
Residents will be notified if off base contamination is identified. No public water system has been impacted. The base is currently in the process of cleaning up the contamination.
South Adams County Water and Sanitation District
PFAS chemical levels are below the health advisory in treated drinking water, but the district found higher PFAS chemical levels in some groundwater sources. The district has treatment to remove PFAS chemicals and shut down sources with higher PFAS chemical levels.
Sugarloaf Volunteer Fire District
Found PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells at one of the district’s stations. All residents located close to the station were notified.
Found PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells on site. All residents located near the site have been notified. No public water system has been impacted. Suncor is currently in the process of cleaning up the contamination.
U.S. Air Force Academy
Found PFAS chemical levels in groundwater wells on the base. All residents located near the base have been notified. No public water system has been impacted. Base is currently in the process of cleaning up the contamination. Sampling taken in the neighborhoods located next to the base has been completed and none of the private drinking water wells exceeded the EPA health advisory for PFAS.