Testing plan for PFCs in the works in W. Boulder County

From The Boulder Daily Camera (Charlie Brennan):

Local, state and federal officials told residents in the western Boulder County area served by the Sugarloaf Fire Protection District they will meet soon to create a plan for future testing, as needed, for perfluorinated compounds in area well water.

Those intentions were shared with about 50 homeowners in the Sugarloaf area who attended a Tuesday evening board meeting of the Sugarloaf district at its Station 2.

The session was attended by, in addition to the concerned residents, representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Boulder County Public Health and the fire protection district.

Inquiries by homeowners, according to county health department spokeswoman Chana Goussetis, included questions about “type B” firefighting foam, which has been discussed as a potential cause of the well contamination; how to select a lab for testing of private well water; recommendations for reverse osmosis filters to make water safe; and future testing plans…

Representatives from all of the agencies will meet soon to create a plan, “which will include where additional sampling is needed,” Goussetis wrote in an email. “This will involve looking closely at the geology of the area to identify homes that most likely will be impacted.”

[…]

Well water at both Stations 1 and 2 have now been tested, and they each tested positive for perfluoroocatanaic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulphate (PFOS) at levels far exceeding the EPA’s advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

That prompted the district to test wells of 10 homeowners living within 1,300 feet of Station 1.

Sugarloaf volunteer John Winchester said that of those 10, six had no detectable PFCs, and the other four had “various” levels. He said specific data would not be released out of respect for homeowners’ privacy.

However, the Boulder County Health Department has said that only one of the 10 showed levels above the EPA advisory levels. That homeowner has not returned calls from the Camera seeking comment on the situation.

Goussetis on Wednesday reported that no other homeowners to date have been found to have wells showing contamination above the EPA advisory level. However, she added, there may be homeowners who had ordered tests whose results are not yet known.

Future testing, she said, “will likely” also include homes near Station 2, due to the levels of PFCs already detected there.

County health officials are recommending that mountain area residents test their well water not only for PFCs, but also for heavy metals, E. coli and other bacteria to fully understand the status of their water.

Meanwhile a report finds that PFCs are more toxic than originally thought. Here’s a report from Ellen Knickmeyer writing for The Associated Press via The Colorado Springs Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:

The chemicals are called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl. They were used in such goods as fire-suppressing foam, nonstick pans, fast-food wrappers, and stain-resistant fabric and carpet, but are no longer used in U.S. manufacturing. Water sampling has found contamination in water around military bases, factories and other sites.

Exposure at high levels is linked to liver damage, developmental problems and some forms of cancer, among other risks.

A draft of the report, by the Department of Health and Human Services’ toxicology office, had set off alarms within the Trump administration earlier this year. A January email from a White House official, released under the Freedom of Information Act, referred to the findings as a “potential public relations nightmare.”

The draft went under months of government review before Wednesday’s publication, but the key finding — that the chemicals are dangerous at specific levels much lower than previously stated — was not changed.

The EPA, which scheduled a series of hearings on the chemicals, said last month that it would move toward formally declaring the two most common forms of PFAS as hazardous substances and make recommendations for groundwater cleanup, among other steps.

U.S. manufacturers agreed in 2006 to an EPA-crafted deal to stop using one of the most common forms of the chemical in consumer products.

The findings will likely lead state and local water systems with the contaminant to boost filtering.

“The more we test, the more we find,” Olga Naidenko, a science adviser to the Environmental Working Group nonprofit, said Wednesday.

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