EPA will be hosting a discussion and listening session in Colorado Springs this week to address a group of emerging drinking water contaminants being found in Colorado and across the country called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that we’re taking a closer look at these days. They have been widely manufactured and used in a variety of everyday products, from cookware and food packaging to firefighting foam. Today, some of our communities are facing challenging problems because PFAS have been detected in their groundwater and drinking water, raising concerns about health risks.
EPA has been working closely with our state and local partners in places where PFAS have been detected above EPA health advisory levels.
In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, El Paso County, and local water utilities have acted quickly to address concerns in the Security, Widefield, and Fountain area and to make sure people are receiving water that is below advisory levels. Peterson Air Force Base has also provided critical support throughout this process.
While we’ve made some real progress, our work is not done.
The circumstances in Security, Widefield, and Fountain are not unique. Communities in parts of Boulder County and South Adams County have also recently identified PFAS concerns, along with others across the country. It’s clear that these issues demand our attention, and a national approach for identifying solutions is needed.
EPA has made addressing PFAS a priority, and we are moving expeditiously on the following actions:
1. EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant level for PFOA and PFOS.
2. EPA is taking steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially the Superfund law.
3. EPA will develop groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites by this fall.
4. EPA is working with federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for other PFAS compounds, including GenX and PFBS, this summer.
Ultimately, our path forward must also be informed by those who are confronting these challenges. As a follow-up to a National Leadership Summit (www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-national-leadership-summit-and-engagement) we convened in May, EPA has been visiting and learning from impacted communities, with recent meetings in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
We will use the information we collect from these engagements to help us develop a national PFAS Management Plan later this year.
I look forward to hearing from area residents at the Hotel Eleganté in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. EPA will be there from 4 until 10 p.m. Your input and perspective on PFAS is critical to shaping our path forward.
If you are unable to join us in person, you are welcome to submit written comments to the online docket.
Please visit www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-community-engagement-colorado-springs-co for more information.
Doug Benevento is EPA regional administrator, region 8.