Colorado health officials say it’s highly likely synthetic chemicals found in three drinking water systems near Colorado Springs came from firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base.
The news comes on the heels of a preliminary assessment of the problem by the U.S Air Force. It found six sites at the base where foam with trace amounts of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, may have escaped into the environment.
“PFCs are found in firefighting foams that are used for fighting fuel fires," said Warren Smith, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "Those foams have been used at Peterson Airforce base historically.”
Health officials say they haven’t ruled out other potential sources of PFCs. The Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to the chemical has been connected to low birth weights, cancer and other health effects.
The Air Force has offered more than $4 million to install water filters to remove PFCs for the communities of Widefield, Security and Fountain. In the coming weeks, state health and air force officials will launch a more targeted study of the six sites in question.