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Environment

Colorado water officials to regulate “forever chemicals” found in firefighting foam, nonstick pans

The Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to regulate per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.”

A puddle of water sits in a retaining pond below firefighting training area at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Widefield aquifer below the base was found to be contaminated with PFAS from the use of toxic firefighting foam. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP)

Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission is putting new limits on a class of chemicals common in everything from nonstick pans to firefighting foam.

Colorado Public Radio reports the commission voted unanimously Tuesday to regulate per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.”

The chemicals have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer and pregnancy issues. Meanwhile, federal efforts to regulate the chemicals have lagged, leaving states to take action on their own.

In 2016, scientists found elevated levels of a specific PFAS in the drinking water for Security-Widefield and Fountain, just south of Colorado Springs. The contamination was traced to firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base, and another study two years later found elevated levels of the same chemical in community members’ blood.

Additional testing has since revealed the chemicals in waterways across the state.

The Colorado Water Quality Control Division has proposed rules to require wastewater treatment plants and industrial sites to monitor the chemicals. It also established the authority for the state to limit the chemicals in future wastewater permits.


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