Drinking water in three Colorado cities contaminated with toxic chemicals

Invisible toxic chemicals are contaminating drinking water for 80,000 people south of Colorado Springs, one of 63 areas nationwide where the chemicals, widely used to fight petroleum fires, have been measured at levels the EPA deems dangerous.

These perfluorinated chemicals rank among the worst in an expanding multitude of unregulated contaminants that federal scientists are detecting in city water supplies, including hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and anti-depressants. Perfluorinated chemicals don’t break down. Boiling water won’t get rid of them.

Military airfields are suspected by Colorado health investigators as a point where the chemicals seeped into the Fountain Creek watershed north of Widefield, Fountain and Security. Air Force officials told The Denver Post it’s too early to tell.

It has reached the point where the water in all 32 of the Security Water and Sanitation District’s municipal wells is contaminated with PFCs at levels exceeding an EPA health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion. At one well, PFCs have hit 1,370 ppt, federal data show — nearly 20 times higher than the limit. EPA officials recommended that pregnant women and small children should not drink local water

Prolonged exposure to perfluorinated chemicals is linked to health harm: developmental damage to fetuses during pregnancy, low birth weight, accelerated puberty and distorted bones. The EPA advisory also linked the chemicals to kidney and testicular cancer, liver tissue damage, impaired production of antibodies and cholesterol changes.

Perfluorinated chemicals aren’t regulated under any national water standard, although Vermont and New Hampshire have launched state-level action. Colorado has not.

RTFA for lots more scary details. Colorado’s version of Flint, Michigan.

One thought on “Drinking water in three Colorado cities contaminated with toxic chemicals

  1. WaterBoyz says:

    Toxic firefighting chemicals can’t be removed from water using standard filters, Mines research shows : Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment no longer monitoring PFC-contaminated groundwater http://www.denverpost.com/2017/06/05/toxic-pfc-chemicals-contaminating-water/ The U.S. government does not regulate PFCs, which also are used to make products resistant to grease including carpet, cookware, clothing and fast-food wrappers. The same properties that make PFCs useful putting out fuel fires prevent them from breaking down in the environment. They rank among the worst of hundreds of unregulated chemicals that federal scientists are detecting in drinking water supplies, including hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and anti-depressants, because they cannot easily be removed.
    Making and using PFCs isn’t illegal, but some manufacturers voluntarily stopped production of the most problematic “long-chain” PFCs, known as PFOA and PFOS. However, Higgins said shorter-chain PFCs touted as “green” alternatives may cause harm, too. Health data is scarce because epidemiological studies haven’t been done.
    The EPA in May 2016 set the PFCs health advisory limit of 70 ppt, tightened from a previous limit of 400 ppt as the latest scientific findings warranted greater caution. In the Colorado Springs CO area city water contamination measured 11,000 parts per trillion (ppt) to 33,000 ppt.
    The watershed ranks among the most-populated among 63 hard-hit areas around the country. PFC contamination at sites near Philadelphia and Seattle also threatens thousands of people.

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