PFAS - Forever Chemicals

The EPA is the federal agency that regulates contaminants in drinking water. The EPA website contains the most up-to-date information about PFAS for your information, and you can find the official data by clicking on this link.


What is a forever chemical?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals used in many household products including nonstick cookware (e.g., Teflon™), stain repellants (e.g., Scotchgard™), and waterproofing (e.g., GORE-TEX™). They are also used in industrial applications such as in firefighting foams and electronics production. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals which are also known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment. 

Two well-known PFAS chemicals are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). These were phased out of production in the United States and replaced by hexafluoropropylene oxide-dimer acid (commonly known as GenX), perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and others. 

Additional information on PFAS from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pfas or from the CDPHE at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas.


What is Snake River Water District Doing about PFAS in drinking water?


The UCMR5 results from the EPA testing in April 2023 indicated detections of a low level of PFAS at the Base 3 water plant.  The Snake River Water District has partnered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to address the detection of PFAS in some of the District's water system. Under the guidance and recommendations of CDPHE, SRWD has voluntarily hired an engineering firm to oversee the collection and testing of additional samples from all of its wells.

The additional testing has the objectives:

  • Determine the presence and magnitude of PFAS in raw and treated water.
  • Determine the levels of PFAS chemicals in the raw water wells and the treated water.
  • Determine the concentrations of concern.
  • Determine if the concentration of PFAS in the wells varies over time.

The first round of voluntary well samples (non-EPA) were collected on October 16, 2023, and the results are being analyzed by the engineering experts. These results will be released on the the website when the analysis is complete. The District has completed a second set of sampling and analysis per the requirements of the UCMR. Our engineers have receive lab analysis of the results from the EPA, but only one of our treatment plant results have been received. The engineers will provide their analysis when all of the results are ready.

The EPA testing will continue on a semi-annual basis. The District is also planning further sampling in the coming months beyond the UCMR requirements to confirm the presence of the PFAS chemicals and to gather data to help make decisions moving forward. The additional sampling includes testing each well to identify if a particular well has higher PFAS concentrations. We will closely watch the development of new PFAS regulations and share information with you as it becomes available.


What can be done to limit exposure to PFAS?

People do not need to stop drinking their water as current health advisories are based on a lifetime of exposure. However, the lower the levels of PFOA and PFOS, the lower the risk. There are ways for individuals who are concerned about PFAS in their drinking water or from other sources to reduce exposure.

  • There is not an immediate public health risk. 
  • CDPHE will keep providing facts to help inform the public on the latest science. 
  • There are certain higher risk groups that may want to reduce their exposure.
    • Children ages 0-5 years, and people who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding are more susceptible to health impacts from these chemicals. Visit https://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas-health for more information.

People can reduce their exposure from drinking water by using water treated by an in-home water treatment filter that is certified to lower the levels of PFAS or by using bottled water that has been treated with reverse osmosis for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Use tap water for bathing, showering, brushing teeth, washing hands, watering yards, washing dishes, cleaning, and laundry.

  • Using bottled water is an individual choice, but there are important concerns with bottled water. CDPHE cannot verify that all bottled water is below PFAS interim health advisories. Reverse osmosis is a treatment method that removes PFAS. We recommend people who use bottled water choose a brand that has been treated with reverse osmosis and includes this language on the bottle. Additionally, bottled water does not contain fluoride to support oral health and creates solid waste and other environmental concerns. 
  • Boiling, freezing, or letting water stand for a period of time does not reduce PFAS levels.

PFAS can be found in many consumer products. One way to reduce exposure is to think about what products you are buying and using.

  • Buy products from companies who have committed to removing PFAS from their manufacturing. 
  • Be aware. Many companies are working to remove PFAS from their products; however, until the removal is complete, products including nonstick cookware (e.g., Teflon™), stain repellants (e.g., Scotchgard™), and water proofing (e.g., GORE-TEX™) may have PFAS. PFAS are also found in certain types of dental floss, nail polish, facial moisturizers, eye make-up, and more. 
  • Avoid non-stick cookware that has PFAS. Consider using stainless steel or cast-iron pots and pans. When the coating on existing non-stick cookware shows signs of wear-and-tear, replace them with stainless steel or cast-iron cookware. 
  • There are many sources of PFAS in the environment, people may consider reducing exposure from other sources. Visit https://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas-health to learn more.

If you have specific health concerns, talk to your doctor. An information sheet, “Talking to your health care provider about PFAS,” is available at https://bit.ly/PFAS-doctor.