Read the full article by Michael Booth (The Colorado Sun)

“Drinking water in Frisco is tainted with dangerous levels of the PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ from suspected firefighting foam runoff into nearby creeks, under new EPA guidance that radically lowered safety levels and sent state officials in search of cities with similarly compromised water systems. 

More than 100 city and town water systems across the state also have test results for PFAS above the new EPA guidelines, state officials said Monday, though in some cases the amounts were so low they must be retested for lab errors or other factors. 

In June, the EPA lowered its recommended guidelines for two of the thousands of PFAS variations, PFOA and PFOS, from a maximum of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water down to 0.004 and 0.02 parts per trillion, respectively.

State officials said they are now returning to the 25% of cities that tested over those revised limits during a 2020 sampling program run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In that 2020 round, the state sampled about 400 of 800 water systems, covering 80% of the population, and will now return to at least 101 of those systems for more testing. 

Because Frisco has been proactive in researching and sampling PFAS, state officials said, the test results prompted the town to move to the next stage of alerting consumers. 

Frisco’s warning to the 3,000 town residents called the taint ‘a concern, not a crisis,’ and said people do not have to stop drinking local water. But the next sentence in the alert says, ‘the lower your exposure, the lower your risk,’ and environmental advocates point out Frisco’s water is now more than 1,000 times the new EPA guidance for the chemicals used widely in kitchen utensil, carpet and clothing coatings since the 1950s. 

Threats to human health from PFAS include compromised immune systems, increases in cholesterol, decreases in infant birth weight, decrease in liver function, thyroid problems and high blood pressure during pregnancy, according to the state and other guidelines. 

Jeff Goble, Frisco’s public works director, said the town was not offering bottled water to people living in areas where the water has tested highest for PFAS chemicals, saying state health officials advised him there’s no guarantee that bottled water is free of the chemicals, either. 

State officials said Monday they are not requiring towns to provide replacement water, and they do not believe it is necessary at the levels they are recording.

The EPA’s weeks-old revised guidelines, which are not meant to be enforceable local regulations but guidance for state water officials, ‘are saying there is virtually no safe level of PFOA and PFOS,’ two discontinued varieties of the common consumer and firefighting chemicals, said Kyla Bennett, director of science policy for the whistleblower defense group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. 

Bennett lives in a PFAS-tainted town in Massachusetts, she said, where ‘they tell us not to drink the water. Towns even set up PFAS-free watering stations so residents can go fill up jugs with water until our filtration plant comes online,’ Bennett said. 

‘I would hope that Frisco would be a little more cautious, and maybe even warn residents that vaccines don’t work as well when you have high levels of PFAS in your blood serum,’ she said, even more important as the COVID pandemic drags on.” …