Read the full article by Bruce Finley (The Denver Post)
“FOUNTAIN VALLEY REGIONAL PARK — Colorado health researcher Sarah Erickson spread her tools in a gazebo by Willow Springs Ponds one recent morning and sliced into a large-mouth bass, peeling away a potentially scrumptious dorsal fillet.
This bass could be a boast-able catch for the residents who flock here to fish. Grills at the ponds invite idyllic picnic feasts.
But Erickson was testing to measure toxic contamination — from PFAS, the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called ‘forever chemicals’ — that has spread through the Fountain Creek watershed south of Colorado Springs.
Fish can accumulate PFAS at concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than the already-elevated levels in groundwater connected to the ponds and creek, state officials said, and people eating toxic fish could face health harm ranging from autoimmune ailments to testicular cancer.
‘I might need a bigger knife,’ Erickson said.
She and Kelsey Barton, a colleague at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, had cut flesh from two dozen catfish, white crappie and green sunfish caught in a net state wildlife workers cast the night before. A large northern pike was up next. Families with kids were arriving with fishing poles.
‘We want to make sure we have enough information to protect the public,’ Erickson said.
The fish testing begun this month reflects an intensified scramble by Colorado public health officials to minimize human health and environmental harm as PFAS chemicals that don’t easily break downspread worldwide, with U.S. airports and military bases, where workers used toxic firefighting foam, standing out among the hot spots.
Colorado officials also are stepping up a campaign to contain these unregulated chemicals, declaring efforts to deal with PFAS a top state priority. The latest investigations found elevated levels of PFAS contaminating water in north metro Denver, including Sand Creek near the Suncor Energy oil refinery, as well as foothills sites west of Boulder, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and the Buckley and Peterson Air Force bases…”