PFAS chemicals can enter drinking water in many different ways. For example, some industrial sites discharge PFAS in their wastewater which ulitmately goes into local waterways. At landfills, water can seep through trash and carry PFAS chemicals to groundwater.
In Colorado, we are especially concerned about contamination of drinking water from certain types of toxic firefighting foam that contain PFAS. These toxic foams are primarily used to put out high-heat fires such as gas, oil, or alcohol-related fires. If the toxic foam is left on the ground, it can leach through soil or run off into bodies of water. Most early discoveries of contaminated drinking water in Colorado were associated with these toxic foams.
PFAS chemicals can accumulate in the body and remain there for years, which may affect health. To protect public health, the department is taking action to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Your health: learn more about health impacts and these chemicals.
Toxic firefighting foam: learn more about how the state is reducing exposure to these chemicals in toxic firefighting foam.
Fact sheet about PFAS in water: learn more about these chemicals in your water (well water or publically-served water) and other potential water uses (showering, laundry use, cooking, pet consumption, etc).
What Colorado is doing about water that contains PFAS chemicals
The department’s priorities, as outlined in the state’s Action Plan, are to work with communities to protect drinking water, minimize future contamination, and, when possible, ensure existing contamination is cleaned up. Explore some of the state’s actions and efforts using the links below.
Action Plan: state’s action plan on breaking the chain of exposure.
2020 Sampling Project: an initiative to help public water systems and private well owners with free sample services.
Toxic foam survey results: a survey of fire stations to better understand where toxic firefighting foam has been deployed and where it is stored today.
Narrative Policy: implementing Colorado’s existing narrative provisions to protect public health.
Well water safety and testing for PFAS chemicals
If you use a well for drinking or for gardening, we recommend testing your well water for PFAS chemicals. You can find labs through a couple of resources.
To use this database, select “PFAS by LCMSMS Compliant with Table B-15 of QSM 5.1 or Latest Version, in the method drop down, and it will give you a list of all the labs in the country who can test for PFAS.
Please note the number of labs who can test for PFAS changes regularly so these resources may not be the most current.
Tell the lab you want to test your drinking water for PFAS. We recommend considering how many PFAS chemicals the lab can test for and test as many PFAS contaminants as the lab offers. A test usually costs between $300 to $500. After receiving results, homeowners should check that combined PFOA and PFOS results are below 70 parts per trillion.
If you have PFAS over the health advisory in your water If you learn that your drinking water has PFAS results above the health advisory of 70 parts per trillion, whether or not you are on a well or being served by a public water system, the department recommends you consider other sources of water for drinking, cooking foods where water is absorbed or consumed (like rice and soup), and preparing baby formula.
Other sources of water include bottled water or water treated under the sink by a reverse osmosis system (see in-home treatment information sheet). If you or your family are concerned about your health or have symptoms you think may be caused by PFAS exposure, contact your healthcare provider and talk with them about PFAS (see guidance document). More information can be found on this fact sheet.