COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Residents who live in Fountain Valley southeast of Colorado Springs are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the perflourinated compounds which have contaminated their drinking water supplies.
The requests came during a two day “community engagement" event sponsored by the EPA.
“I think this is a big deal,” said Fran Silva-Blayney of the Sierra Club’s Fountain Creek Water Sentinels. “It’s a big deal in terms of bringing public awareness to the issue and in terms of the EPA recognizing that we need to take regulatory action.”
Silva-Blayney said the community wants the EPA to set “maximum contaminant levels.”
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) chemicals are used for a myriad of industrial purposes ranging from fabric treatment to prevent stains, to pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags and fire-fighting foam.
The contamination in the public water supplies of Fountain, Security and Widefield came from firefighting foam, which was used for decades at Peterson Air Force Base.
Several residents and former residents raised questions about the health impact of long-term exposure.
“My father died of kidney cancer last year,” said Mark Favors, a member of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition.
Favors told Denver7 that he was born and raised in the valley, and then moved to New York eight years ago.
“My cousin was here yesterday,” he said. “His grandson, at 14 years of age, had to have a kidney replaced, a transplant last year.”
“We would really like to know, do we have hereditary cancers, or do we have environmental cancers?” said Liz Rosenbaum, who founded the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition.
“Summit was amazing”
Rosenbaum said she is encouraged by what’s going on.
“The community wants to be more actively involved,” she said, adding that it’s a way to stay informed.
“When you’re scared, you get angry,” she said, “and if you know what’s going on, you can develop solutions and ideas.”
State health officials say they don’t know yet how widespread the contamination problem is in Colorado.
So far, contamination has been found during tests of public wells in the Fountain Valley, Commerce City and at a fire station on Sugar Loaf Mountain in Boulder County.
“We’re in the initial stages of identifying potential sources in the state,” said Kristy Richardson, an environmental toxicologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We're looking at all those sources that have been used in industry and manufacturing.”
The EPA’s advisory limit for Perfluorooctanesulfonic acids (PFOs) and PFAS is 70 parts per trillion.
Residents who attended the EPA’s meetings would like to make it a regulatory standard and much tougher than 70 ppt.
"We have a health advisory for two substances, in a family of 3,000... so we don't know if we're removing all of them," Richardson said. "Residents are very concerned about getting them out (of the water) and making sure they're not exposed to them anymore."