Following a report in the Business Journal that water in Widefield, Security and Fountain tested positive for high levels of chemical contaminants, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the El Paso County Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency took the unusual step of issuing a joint press release today — assuring the public that the water “meets the health standards in the Colorado Primary Drinking Water Regulations.”
Water in the three districts tested above health advisories established by the EPA in 2009, the release said. The contaminants are known as perfluorinated compounds, 0r PFCs, and were created by 3M Corp. and used by DuPont for products like Scotchgard and Teflon products. The chemicals are also found in firefighting foams and other coating additives. They are pervasive in the environment, and some studies link the chemicals to cancer and other health problems.
The release assures the public that the water can be used for drinking, bathing, cooking and all other uses. Water systems in the three communities are collecting additional water samples and working with the CDPHE and EPA to make sure the PFC levels are below the current health advisory level.
However, the three health and environmental agencies issue a warning for Residents of Security, Widefield and Fountain to get water tested if they are on private wells and concerned about the PFC levels.
Call 575-8602 to find EPA-approved laboratories to conduct the testing. The El Paso County Public Health’s laboratory is not able to test for PFCs. Studies have shown that certain treatment systems are effective in removing PFCs from drinking water. Reverse osmosis has been shown as a reliable under-the-sink treatment option. These devices can be purchased at local home improvement stores. Residents with questions about their public drinking water should contact their local water provider, the release said.
“State and local governments do not have authority over unregulated contaminants such as PFCs.” the release said. “Since they are not regulated, water providers are not required to treat drinking water or routinely sample for PFCs. However, out of an abundance of caution, the EPA, state, and local health agencies are working together with public drinking water systems in the area to understand and address this emerging issue and reduce exposure to PFCs as recommended by EPA.”
In 2005, DuPont settled a class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of 70,000 mid-Ohio Valley residents for decades of PFC contamination. As part of the settlement, DuPont is paying for technology to filter the chemical from six water districts in Ohio.
In addition, the first six of about 3,500 personal injury lawsuits about PFC contamination have been tried in Ohio courts, and all have been found in favor of local residents.
The advisory level suggested by the EPA is a voluntary standard, according to some documents, but doesn’t yet carry the force of law. That might take another four to six years, some experts claim.
And more recent studies show that PFC contamination is dangerous to human health far below the EPA levels. Scientists throughout the world have called for a ban on the use of the man-made chemical.
To read more about the contamination: