DENVER (KDVR) — So-called “forever chemicals” are back in headlines in Colorado after news broke of the chemicals showing up in the metro.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – known as PFAS — present in Colorado’s waters are gaining attention, but experts will tell you that’s not the only place these substances are lurking.
“It’s nearly indestructible and it’s labeled forever chemicals. When these PFAS get into our communities, it could take hundreds of years for them to break down if they ever do,” Danny Katz of CoPIRG said.
He said Colorado is leading the way when it comes to controlling PFAS, or “forever chemicals” that do not break down, but there is more work to be done.
“The number one thing we need to do is that we just need to stop it at the source. Once PFAS get out there, they are really, really hard to do anything with. The best thing we can do right now is kind of control them and put them in an isolated place,” Katz said.
PFAS can be found in everything from stain-proof materials and nonstick and waterproof clothing to large emissions from places like factories and refineries.
Manufacturer 3M is offering to pay water providers between $10.5 billion and $12.5 billion after being sued over its use of PFAS. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and 22 other attorney generals rejected the settlement offer.
Weiser said in a statement: “Coloradans now suffer degraded water quality and public health injuries on account of the actions of 3m and other companies who manufactured and marketed PFAS.”
“By taking action today, we are standing up for our citizens and fighting for an adequate and appropriate resolution of the ongoing litigation.”
Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Division served Suncor with a noncompliance advisory in June, noting violations of the state’s Water Quality Control Act. CDPHE said that due to the severity of the violations, the state’s water division will decide whether a formal enforcement action is warranted.
“We should be having a high bar for how much we restrict the amount of PFAS that can get into our environment and a high bar for pushing companies and industries to adopt products that don’t contain those PFAS. So absolutely, we support CDPHE’s effort to ratchet up the controls for how much PFAS are getting into our waterways,” Katz said.
Katz said more action on this from the federal government would help eliminate the presence of these chemicals, as they are found in many household items.