Projects and programs addressing chemicals from firefighting foam and other sources

The department is committed to protecting human health and the environment. We are taking actions to reduce exposure to PFAS chemicals. More information can be found on our FAQ (en español).

Current

Adams County Sampling Project

We are partnering with the Tri-County Health Department to sample for these chemicals in groundwater in Adams County.

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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.

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).  

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.

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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.

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.

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The initial Exposure Assessment results are in.

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.

Summit County Sampling Project

We are partnering with the Summit County Environmental Health Department to sample for these chemicals in groundwater in Summit County.

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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.

Takeback Program

This program allows us to purchase and store firefighting foam containing these chemicals until we can safely dispose of it. We plan to begin this program in the fall of 2021.

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Through the new Takeback Program, CDPHE will now pay eligible Colorado fire departments to take unspent firefighting foam containing PFAS out of service and safely store it until we know of a safe disposal method and can collect it for transport and safe disposal. 

Program eligibility and details

Payment: $40 per gallon for unspent firefighting foam containing PFAS to help support fire departments with the purchase of PFAS free replacement foam and providing safe storage for unspent foam containing PFAS. 

Eligible entities: Colorado fire departments that registered through the certificate of registration program.  

Eligible materials: Unspent firefighting foam containing PFAS. 

Proper disposal method: Applicant to follow EPA’s Interim PFAS Destruction and Disposal Guidance by providing interim storage until a safe disposal method is identified.

Timeline:
Application period: Through February 28, 2022

Payment distribution: October 1, 2021 - March 31, 2022

How to apply
1. Fill out this sign-up form to receive an application to participate in the takeback program.
2. Once you fill out the sign-up form, a CDPHE project manager will reach out to you to begin next steps. 

This program is supported through Senate Bill 20-218, CDPHE Hazardous Substances Responses. Until EPA determines a safe disposal method, we will follow EPA’s Interim PFAS Destruction and Disposal Guidance that recommends interim storage. The Takeback Program may be expanded to include other entities and materials containing PFAS in the future.

Upcoming

Vulnerability Map

This project will lead to the development of a statewide map to help us determine where we should prioritize PFAS sampling and collect firefighting foam. This map will use many sources of data to determine possible water contamination and who might be at risk. It will consider potential burdens on disproportionately impacted communities.

CO SCOPE

CO SCOPE is the Colorado Study on Community Outcomes from PFAS Exposure. Communities in Southeast El Paso County, Colorado were exposed to PFAS chemicals in their drinking water as a result of firefighting foam use at Peterson Air Force Base. A team is studying how drinking water that contains these chemicals may harm health. This study is part of a nationwide, multi-site study funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

PFAS Grant Program

This program provides funding opportunities for sampling efforts to test groundwater and surface water, water treatment infrastructure, and emergency assistance for communities and water systems affected by these chemicals. We plan to begin the grant program in the fall of 2021.

Completed

CDC/ATSDR Exposure Assessment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ATSDR completed an exposure assessment of people living near Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, Colorado.

Learn more

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. 

 

2020 Sampling Project

We sampled 400 water systems, 15 firefighting districts, 152 groundwater sources, and 71 surface water sources. None of the treated drinking water tested above EPA’s health advisory level. Some of the groundwater and surface water sources tested above that level.

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We offered free testing to public drinking water systems and fire districts with wells. We took samples from:

  • Treated drinking water from public water systems.
  • Groundwater and surface water sources used for drinking water.
  • Wells serving fire districts.

Samples were then tested for these chemicals to help communities learn about potential risks. We encourage water systems to share their results with their customers.

We are currently following the EPA health advisory. If testing shows levels above the health advisory, we will work with the water system to notify the public and reduce exposure.

This dashboard only reflects public water systems that signed up for the 2020 Sampling Project. Systems without test results on this dashboard may have already sampled for these chemicals or plan on doing their own sampling.

We encourage systems to contact us if they have sampled for PFAS recently or plan to sample soon. 


The results are in - press release: This press release summarizes results.

Public water systems who applied.

Test results: public water systems, fire districts, and surface waters.

2020 PFAS Sampling Project Report.

2020 Discharge Permit Survey

To better understand potential risks of these chemicals making their way into Colorado waters, we required facilities with discharge-related permits to respond to a survey in 2020. 193 facilities self-reported a known or suspected presence of these chemicals.

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We surveyed facilities permitted to release treated wastewater, water used for manufacturing, and other similar activities into local waterways. The survey asked about the use and storage of certain products containing these chemicals.

The results help us better understand the use of these chemicals and risks to state waters. We can also determine if specific permits may need PFAS monitoring.

The map shows the locations of facilities that reported on the PFAS survey that they: use or store AFFF or Class B firefighting foam or other PFAS-containing materials; are within proximity to where AFFF is likely used; and/or have potential PFAS passing through their wastewater treatment plant. 

  • The locations of the facilities are based on the latitude and longitude coordinates listed on their department permits. THIS MAY NOT REFLECT THE ACTUAL LOCATION OF THE FACILITY OR PERMIT LOCATION. For example, the municipal storm sewer permit usually covers the entire city area. The latitude and longitude may reflect the center of that area or is located near the permitted area.
  • To view more information about a particular facility, click on the marker. 

Note: ArcGIS software has a character limit on what can be displayed. Use this guide to understand what each row means when selecting a point to view more information about it. The character limit cuts off some of the words in longer responses submitted for the survey, but you can find the full response on this spreadsheet of facilities with known or suspected PFAS presence.

Link to map: http://arcg.is/HT4KH