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EPA Region 8 continues to aggressively address PFAS

Building on assistance provided to Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming, Trump Administration continues to address PFAS affecting water and drinking water resources

07/30/2020
Contact Information: 
Richard Mylott (mylott.richard@epa.gov)
303-312-6654

DENVER (July 29, 2020) — Aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) continues to be an active and ongoing priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8, which includes the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, and 27 Tribal Nations. Region 8 is working closely with several states, tribes and local communities affected by PFAS, including ongoing efforts to investigate contamination and protect water and drinking water resources in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming. EPA’s regional actions complement the efforts being made under the national PFAS Action Plan.

“With federal technical assistance efforts underway across the country, the Trump Administration is bringing much needed support to state, tribal, and local governments as part of the agency’s unprecedented efforts under the PFAS Action Plan,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These partnerships allow for collaboration, encourage cutting edge research, and information sharing—ensuring that our joint efforts are effective and protective of public health.”

“EPA Region 8 is focused on supporting our federal, state and local partners as they investigate and respond to PFAS concerns affecting water resources in our communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “I commend our partners in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming for successfully navigating many challenges to make sure people are receiving safe drinking water.  We will continue to provide community engagement, technical expertise, and other resources necessary to secure public health as we move forward with key actions under the national PFAS Action Plan."

Highlights of EPA Region 8 activities include a multi-year effort with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), El Paso County, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Air Force, affected public water systems, and other entities to mitigate exposures from PFAS in drinking water and address community concerns in the Security/Widefield/Fountain areas near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  EPA staff have played key roles in conducting community engagement activities, providing technical assistance on groundwater sampling plans, evaluating human health and toxicological concerns, and funding private well sampling to determine the extent of contamination in the area. EPA Region 8 has also assisted CDPHE, Tri-County Public Health, the South Adams County Water District, the City of Denver, and local stakeholders to investigate groundwater contamination of PFAS and protect public drinking water supplies in Denver and parts of its northern suburbs.

EPA Region 8 has worked with CDPHE and small communities in the foothills of Boulder County, Colorado to address PFAS contamination affecting private wells. This support involves public outreach and education on EPA’s drinking water health advisory, technical support on PFAS measurement and analytical methods, and groundwater and private well sampling.

Region 8 is also working with the State of South Dakota, the City of Box Elder, and the Department of Defense at Ellsworth Air Force Base to address PFAS contamination, including providing technical assistance and public engagement.

EPA Region 8 is also playing a role in advancing the science that will identify solutions to PFAS concerns. Through the Regional Applied Research Effort Program, Region 8 and EPA’s Office of Research and Development conducted research on the effectiveness of point-of-use/point-of-entry systems to remove PFAS from drinking water. The results were published in February 2019.

New support activities are planned for this summer.  The EPA Region 8 laboratory will begin providing analytical support to states and tribes to support ongoing efforts to identify potential sources and the extent of PFAS contamination in communities. In collaboration with the CDPHE, the Region is also developing training for municipalities and wastewater treatment plant operators to help identify potential sources of PFAS into their systems. Finally, Region 8 plans to begin testing tribal drinking water sources and will support the state-wide PFAS investigatory work that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality already has underway.

 Background on the PFAS Action Plan

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, facilities using PFAS in production of other products, airports, and military installations are some of the contributors of PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. There is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.

As part of EPA’s aggressive efforts to address these risks, the agency issued the PFAS Action Plan in February 2019. The Action Plan is the agency’s first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS. The plan responds to the extensive public input the agency received during the PFAS National Leadership Summit, multiple community engagements and through the public docket. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the processes and tools EPA is using to develop to assess the PFAS risk and assist states, tribes and communities in addressing their unique situations.

EPA PFAS Research page: https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/research-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas