DENVER (AP) — Sampling of drinking water sources throughout Colorado found no levels of a class of toxic chemicals that exceed nonbinding standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state health department says.
But higher levels of the chemical compounds, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were discovered in several groundwater sources, according to the Department of Public Health and Environment.
PFAS have been used for decades and have been linked to a growing number of health problems. On a national level, water sampling shows the contaminant — also called “forever chemicals” because they will take thousands of years to break down — has seeped into many public water systems, including around military bases and industries.
The chemicals are found in a range of goods, including nonstick pans, stain-resistant clothing, dental floss and food containers. They also are in firefighting foam used by the military to battle jet-fuel fires.
Their discovery at Colorado's Buckley Air Force Base, around Colorado Springs and near an oil refinery in suburban Denver prompted the state study, The Denver Post reports.
State health officials sampled roughly half of the state's drinking water systems serving 75% of its population, along with dozens of groundwater sources, rivers and streams.
“The current results show that no drinking water tested above the EPA health advisory for two chemicals,” said Kristy Richardson, state toxicologist at the department.
The EPA announced in February that it plans to consider limits on the compounds.
State testing suggested that industrial operations discharging wastewater into rivers and streams could produce a buildup of PFAS.