Chemicals from firefighting foam and other sources
Coloradans face an emerging public health challenge from a family of chemicals found in toxic firefighting foam and other sources. The chemicals are known scientifically as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Learn more about these chemicals and the department’s actions to reduce exposure below.
NEW: Adams County Sampling Project
We are partnering with the Tri-County Health Department to sample for these chemicals in groundwater in Adams County. The samples will help us assess the extent of impacted groundwater. Anyone who gets their water from a local water utility has water with PFAS levels below the health advisory.
Visit the Tri-County Health Department's website to learn more about the sampling project.
NEW: Summit County Sampling Project
We are partnering with the Summit County Environmental Health Department to sample for these chemicals in groundwater in Summit County. The samples will help us assess the extent of impacted groundwater. Anyone who gets their water from a local water utility has water with PFAS levels below the health advisory.
Visit the Summit County Environmental Health Department's website to learn more about the sampling project.
NEW: El Paso County Exposure Assessment
The CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) completed an Exposure Assessment of people living near Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, Colorado. The initial results are in.
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A team tested 346 people, including 28 children. Eighteen people also provided household samples, including tap water.
Initial results showed three chemicals (PFHxS, PFOS, and PFOA) in blood were above national averages. Results for four other chemicals (PFNA, MeFOSAA, PFUnA, and PFDA) were similar to or below national averages. Urine sample results showed very low concentrations of these chemicals.
Levels of PFAS chemicals in all 18 tap water samples were below all federal and applicable state guidelines for PFAS chemicals in drinking water.
Certificate of Registration Program
Anyone using or storing Class B firefighting foam containing PFAS must register through the Certificate of Registration Program.
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Firefighting foams fall into two main categories, Class A and Class B. Class A foams are used to fight fires caused by wood, paper, and plants. They generally do not contain PFAS chemicals. Class B foams put out fires caused by flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and jet fuel. They may contain PFAS chemicals.
Anyone using or storing Class B firefighting foam containing these chemicals must register through the Certificate of Registration Program. We developed this program with stakeholders (see materials from stakeholder meetings).
- A web page explaining how to tell if firefighting foam contains PFAS.
- Register your use or storage of Class B firefighting foam containing PFAS.
- Sign-up for email notifications to get updates about the Certificate of Registration Program.
- Update your registration information.
- Currently registered facilities.
We will share information in the coming months on a Takeback Program to purchase, collect, and provide interim storage for firefighting foams containing these chemicals until a safe disposal method is identified.
Discharge permits (CDPS permitting)
We have started to require monitoring and limits for PFAS in discharge permits. This list of permits and permit certifications with current and proposed PFAS monitoring and limits will be updated periodically.
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In July 2020, the Water Quality Control Commission adopted the department's proposed PFAS Narrative Policy, Policy 20-1.
The PFAS Narrative Policy describes how the department will regulate these chemicals in Colorado lakes, streams, and other waters. Here is a summary. This includes monitoring for the chemicals and setting limits for discharge permits. We have begun this process and will update the list of permits and permit certifications with current and proposed PFAs monitoring and limits periodically. Guidance for permittees can be found on the PFAS Resources page.
Before proposing the policy, we hosted three stakeholder meetings to gather feedback. You can find all meeting materials in the Narrative Policy Work Group meeting materials files.