In an effort to be proactive, the City of Arvada recently conducted voluntary testing for a group of unregulated chemicals scientifically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. PFAS are sometimes called "forever chemicals." These chemicals are commonly found in firefighting foam, manufacturing processes, household products, and other items. Too much exposure may result in negative health effects. Out of an abundance of caution and given our commitment to keep you informed, we want you to know our water sample results received on June 22, 2020 each of the reservoirs showed very low levels of total PFAS, 4.5 ppt for Arvada Reservoir and 0.77 ppt for Ralston Reservoir. The treated drinking water at Ralston Treatment Plant showed non-detects for all 18 PFAS tested.This is below EPA’s health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion which means health impacts are not expected to occur. All of our PFAS test results are available at: www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/PFCs/2020-Sampling-Project.
What are PFAS and the potential health effects from exposure?
PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products like food packaging, carpets, non-stick products, other household items, medical supplies, and firefighting foam due to their ability to resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. According to EPA, studies indicate exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects. For example, developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants can occur over weeks of exposure (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations). Years to decades of exposure can lead to liver damage, negative immune and thyroid effects, and other health impacts. We know the most about PFOA and PFOS, but there are other chemicals in the PFAS family such as PFHpA, PFHxS, PFBS, and PFNA. These chemicals may have similar impacts on humans. The health impacts of PFAS is the current focus of much research. As new studies become available, our understanding of the health impacts of these chemicals in humans will continue to grow.
What do these test results mean for my health and do I need to do anything?
Toxicity information supporting EPA’s health advisory suggests that drinking water with PFAS levels below the health advisory will not cause harm. If you are still concerned, please talk to your doctor, learn more about the chemicals, and then consider bottled water or water treated by a reverse osmosis system. Please know bottled water or reverse osmosis systems may not have added benefits that tap water has. For example, your public water system may have water with fluoride which can reduce tooth decay by up to 25 percent. Reverse osmosis systems remove fluoride and bottled water may not have fluoride. Tap water is significantly less expensive than bottled water and does not result in as much plastic waste as bottled water production. Bottled water is not regulated to the extent tap water is and may not be tested specifically for PFAS, though large commercially available bottled water companies use treatment processes that are expected to remove PFAS.
Where can I get more information?
Additional PFAS information can be found at www.colorado.gov/cdphe/pfcs. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us at 720-898-7802.
- by Public Works