You may have heard of PFAS (Per-Fluoro and Poly-Fluoro Alkyl Substances) and become concerned. We recognize these concerns and want to help provide information about PFAS in Arvada. Your health and safety are always our highest priority!
To date, we have had no detections in any of our treated drinking water.
- What are PFAS?
Per- and poly-Fluoro Alkyl Substances, or PFAS, is a term that describes thousands of human-made chemicals found in everyday products that are heat, water, and oil resistant. PFAS can end up in our water, air, and soil from thousands of potential sources resulting in exposure to humans, animals and the environment. Since the 1940s, they have been used to make things like:
- Non-stick cookware and food packaging
- Waterproof and stain-resistant carpet and fabrics
- Cosmetics, sunscreen and other personal care products
- Fire-resistant and fire-fighting products
Studies have shown that, in high enough quantities, certain PFAS may be bad for your health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses lifetime Health Advisories to protect people from negative health effects that may come from exposure to PFAS. These calculations are based on drinking about 64 ounces of water per day for 70 years. This also takes into account other potential sources of exposure beyond drinking water (for example, food, air, consumer products, etc.).
- Are PFAS in Arvada water?
Arvada Water Quality performs internal sampling and has so far not detected any of the PFAS compounds tested for in our raw or treated waters (see Internal PFAS Results (PDF)). Arvada also participated in Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's 2020 PFAS Sampling Project. We will also be participating in the EPA's UCMR5 sampling in 2023 which includes many more PFAS compounds than tested for in the past. All of this information will be publicly available when complete.
At the City of Arvada, we work very hard to keep our drinking water safe for all who drink it. Thankfully, we are very early users of our water source. This means our source water hasn't had as much opportunity to be contaminated. Remember that all water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants.
- How do PFAS get into water?
PFAS enter the wastewater (sewer) system when products containing them are washed or rinsed down your drains. Wastewater treatment plants typically don't fully remove the tiny particles so they end up moving downstream to the next water user.
They can also enter groundwater near facilities where PFAS-containing products are made or used. In Arvada, groundwater is not a source of our drinking water.
- How are PFAS regulated in water?
The EPA and CDPHE are working on drinking water quality standards but do not have set regulations at this time. Health Advisories are used as a reference while they create maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for drinking water.
The EPA Health Advisories, which are not regulations, have previously included two compounds, PFOA and PFOS. The EPA has newly released Health Advisories that expand the lifetime exposure levels. These advisories add the HFPO, or "GenX", and PFBS compounds, and lower the advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS.
Previously, the PFOA and PFOS compounds had a health advisory level of 70 ppt (parts per trillion). The new advisories reduce these to 0.004 ppt and 0.02 ppt respectively. 0.004 ppt is the same as 4 parts per quadrillion. A part per quadrillion is 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000. This is equivalent to 1 second in 31.7 million years! Current technology can measure these compounds at about 2 ppt.
The advisory levels for PFBS and HFPO are 2000 ppt and 10 ppt respectively.
- How can we reduce our exposure to PFAS?
- Manufacturers and consumers can limit or stop the use of products containing PFAS.
- Look for "PFAS free" statements or commitments from manufacturers on the products you buy.
- If you are still concerned and want to use a Point of Use filter, ensure that it states "PFAS-removing" and maintain filters according to instructions.
- If you choose to use bottled water, use a brand that clearly states treatment with "reverse osmosis" or "ion exchange". Note that the FDA, not the EPA, regulates bottled water. At this time there are no specific regulations for PFAS in bottled water.
The State and Federal governments have also created new regulations on the manufacture and sale of PFAS-containing products. Colorado's HB22-1345 is one example.
- Where can I find more information?