PFAS: Background and Impact

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a common term for a group of human-made chemicals found in everyday products. PFAS were originally created in the 1940s and are resistant to water, grease and stains. They are found in everyday items such as carpet, clothing, cookware, food wrappers and furniture. They are also used in some firefighting foams that are being phased out of use.

PFAS chemicals take a long time to break down and are thus persistent in the environment. Humans can be exposed to these chemicals through a variety of pathways, including eating food contaminated with PFAS, using products made with PFAS, drinking water that contains PFAS and breathing air containing PFAS. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found associations between exposure to some PFAS chemicals and human health.

PFAS Have Not Been Detected Above the Reporting Limit in the City of Boulder Drinking Water.

In 2023, the City of Boulder tested the city’s drinking water for 29 PFAS compounds as part of the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminate Monitoring Rule. The city completed the four rounds of required testing in December 2023. None of the 29 PFAS compounds were detected in the city’s drinking water.

New PFAS Drinking Water Regulations

The EPA released new drinking water regulations for six PFAS chemicals on April 10, 2024. The six regulated PFAS compounds include PFOS, PFOA, PFBS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFHxS. The city has tested drinking water for all of these compounds, and they have not been detected.

The new regulation requires water providers to monitor these six PFAS chemicals and notify the community and eventually reduce levels of PFAS if levels exceed the standards. Because these PFAS chemicals have not been found in the city’s drinking water, we anticipate that our drinking water will continue to be in compliance with the new PFAS regulations without additional treatment. The city will continue to test for PFAS in drinking water to meet regulatory requirements.

To learn more, customers can visit the EPA’s PFAS webpage.

Boulder's Drinking Water

Boulder is fortunate to have several high-quality sources of water near the Continental Divide and largely upstream from most human impacts.

The city is committed to continuing to provide clean and safe drinking water to our community. We will continue actively evaluating new information and regulations around PFAS to best protect the health of our drinking water system and our community.

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