Water Contamination from PFAS in Fountain, Security, and Widefield:


Q: What are PFASs?

A: PFASs stands for Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, though they are also sometimes referred to as PFCs. A large number of chemicals (up to 5,000) are included in this group and they are typically used as a mixture. Two of these chemicals, PFOS (perflurooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoate), are detectable in 99% of people in the US. The PFASs in the Fountain, Security and Widefield water system contain a high level of PFHxS (perfluorohexane sulfonate), a substance which is less well studied than PFOS and PFOA.


Q: What are PFASs used for?

A: PFAS mixtures are man-made. They do not occur naturally in the environment. PFASs have many uses in industry and consumer products, including food packaging, nonstick and water repellent coatings, and fire-fighting foams.

Q: How did PFASs get in the drinking water?

A: PFASs are a major component of AFFF (aqueous film forming foams), which were used at Peterson Airforce Base starting in 1970 to put out fuel fires.  At present, it is suspected that that the use of AFFF at Peterson may have been responsible for the PFASs in the water supplies of Fountain, Security, and Widefield. Over the years the AFFF may have seeped into the ground water and traveled slowly through the water table, eventually contaminating drinking water sources used in the towns of Fountain, Security, and Widefield.


Q: How long has the water been contaminated?

A: It is not known how long the drinking water sources have been contaminated. The contamination goes back at least as far as 2013 based on sampling results released by US EPA In 2015.


Q: Is the water still contaminated?

A: The Water Authorities have installed treatment systems that are effective at eliminating PFAS from the water supply.  Some water systems also changed water sources to prevent future exposure.  Water from the public system is now safe to drink. The Air Force have also been working with affected private well owners to treat and/or provide alternative water supplies.


Q: What are the possible health effects from drinking water that was contaminated with PFASs?

A: In humans, high levels of exposure to PFOA/PFOS are associated with several health effects. 

  • EPA and the International Agency for research on Cancer (IARC) list PFASs as “possible carcinogens,” with links to kidney and testicular cancer

  • Non-cancer health effects linked to PFASs in individuals with high exposure include thyroid disease, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and ulcerative colitis

Q: Where can I get more information about using water that may be contaminated for things other than drinking like laundry, cooking and gardening? 

A: Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment provides guidance on this question here: 



Q: What is the purpose of the study?

A: The purpose of the study is two-fold:

  1. To understand the relationship between exposure to PFASs in drinking water and how quickly the body accumulates and/or eliminates various PFASs.

  2. To evaluate how exposure to PFASs affects health. Specifically, we will be looking at markers of health related to liver function, cholesterol, and immune response.


Q: What is involved if I want to participate in the study?

A: We will be recruiting up to 200 participants from the Fountain, Widefield, and Security area. Participants will give a blood sample, answer questions about their demographic characteristics, lifestyle, work history and health. We will also be collecting water samples.


Q: When will the study take place?

A: Recruiting will take place in mid- to late spring of 2018. The blood sampling, water sampling and questionnaire completion will take place in late spring or early summer of 2018.


Q: Where will the study take place?

A: Participants will be asked to come to a central location in the Fountain, Widefield, or Security area for the blood draw and questionnaire completion.


Q: How much of my time will I need to commit if I want to participate?

A: Following a 5-minute phone screening to determine eligibility and to schedule the blood draw, participants should expect the blood draw and questionnaire completion to take between 30 and 45 minutes.


Q: What are the eligibility requirements for the study?

A: Eligibility requirements for the study include:

  • Primary residence of at least 3 years as of August 2015 and served by the Fountain, Security, or Widefield water systems or a PFAS-impacted private well

  • Over age 18

  • Have not smoked tobacco or marijuana in the last 12 months

  • Not currently pregnant

  • Willing to provide blood samples and answer our questionnaire

  • Willing to refrain from taking allergy medication, NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol) and vitamins/supplements for 48 hours prior to blood collection


Q: Will I get my personal results from the blood and water sampling?

A: Yes. You will receive your individual results of the blood and water sampling approximately four to six months after the study visit. You will also be able to see how your individual results compare to the average values in the study population.


Q: Will it cost me any money to participate in the study?

A: No. You will be compensated $25.00 for your time.


Q: Who can I contact for more information or to participate in the study?

A: For further questions or if you are interested in participating in the study:

Email: PFAS-AWARE@UCDenver.edu

Phone: (719) 301-9733


Helpful References:


  1. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfc/docs/pfas_clinician_fact_sheet_508.pdf

  2. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/pfcs

  3. http://securitywsd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Security-fact-sheet-updated-2_11_16.pdf

  4. http://www.c8sciencepanel.org/prob_link.html