News Feature | August 4, 2016

PFC Discovery In Colorado Illustrates Breadth Of Contamination

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson


The city of Fountain, CO, is facing a problem when it comes to contamination. It is on a growing list of American communities that are dealing with elevated levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in their drinking water.

According to The New York Times, in the last few months, PFC poisoning has plagued communities nationwide, from Hoosick Falls, NY to North Bennington, VT.

"Unlike in many of the other places, the contamination in Fountain and in two nearby communities, Widefield and Security, is not believed to be related to manufacturing," the Times reported. "Rather, the authorities suspect that it was caused by Aqueous Film Forming Foam, a firefighting substance used on military bases nationwide."

The New York Times report went on:

The firefighting agent has been used to extinguish fuel fires since 1970. Aqueous Film Forming Foam was created by 3M at the behest of the Navy, which needed a way to stamp out fires on ships. The foam is laden with PFCs.

In the face of growing health effects, The New York Times reported that the U.S. EPA is considering whether to “regulate the chemicals,” which manufacturers have used for decades. In May, the EPA released a new health advisory on two of the best-known perfluorinated chemicals — PFOA and PFOS.

Defense Department officials had originally identified 700 sites of possible contamination, but that number has risen to at least 2,000, most of them on Air Force bases, said Mark A. Correll, a deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and infrastructure at the Air Force.

Each of the nine bases that the Air Force has examined so far had higher-than-recommended levels of PFCs in the local drinking water, The New York Times reported. Four bases identified by the Navy were also found to have contaminated water.

“It’s quite possible it will touch every state,” said Jennifer Field, a professor at Oregon State University, according to the Times. “Every place has a military base, a commercial airport, an oil refinery, a fuel tank farm.”

To read more about PFC contamination visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Best Army Photos 2 March 8, 2006" Expert Infantry © 2006, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: