Read the full article by Debbie Kelley (Colorado Springs Gazette)

“Manmade chemicals brought to the marketplace last century after World War II to make life better with products such as nonstick cookware and water-repellent shoes have made life in this century more worrisome.

The Security-Widefield area of El Paso County in 2016 became ground zero for drinking-water contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of compounds referred to as PFAS.

Routine testing identified PFAS in wells downstream from Peterson Space Force Base, one of several sites around the nation polluted by firefighting foam.

Millions of mitigation dollars later, some residents remain fearful.

‘I was definitely concerned about it then, and I’m still concerned about it now,’ Security resident Blaine Magee said last week, while playing with his young children at a park outside the library.

Results of recent studies, combined with new Environmental Protect Agency health advisories and expected industry regulations, mean other Colorado communities likely will need to remediate in upcoming years.

‘Literally, it’s everywhere,’ said Roy Heald, general manager of Security Water and Sanitation Districts.

‘It’s almost ironic now that we’re in good shape and with new EPA health advisories, it’s going to be another round of public concern that we’ve already dealt with,’ he said. 

A peer-reviewed study conducted by scientists at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit activist organization, published in October 2020, estimated that more than 200 million Americans could have excess PFAS in their drinking water.

Colorado is one of several states that’s come under scrutiny in recent years for high concentrations of the chemicals.

A report released in June identified more than 200 state water providers that tested in 2020 above what the EPA defines as potentially hazardous PFAS levels and recommended they notify consumers. Researchers anticipate that other water sources in the state are tainted, as well, but have yet to be tested.

The EPA in June also issued more stringent health advisories for two PFAS, which are currently unregulated, though the agency has said it is developing enforceable regulations.

From legislation Colorado lawmakers passed in 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment this year is providing $1.5 million in grant funding for eligible entities to sample water, provide emergency assistance, and help treat contamination.

‘Live with the small amounts’

Because PFAS don’t degrade, they are called ‘forever chemicals.’

They bind to fat in the body, aren’t expelled in urine, and accumulate over time, said Scott Wilson, president and CEO of Regenesis. His company, based in San Clemente, Calif., has created a mitigation system that doesn’t require water to be pumped to the surface to be treated but uses a subsurface method that essentially converts the aquifer itself into a purifying filter.

‘If you drink a water source all your life, even small amounts will build up to the point it starts to do bad things to your body,’ Wilson said. 

Exposure has been linked to several types of cancers, developmental problems among children, immune system deficiencies, diseases of the thyroid, kidney and liver, and other health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” …