By Megan Graham | San Juan Basin Public Health
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has received a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to address contaminants in drinking water.
The funding will be used to provide free testing for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which is a broad group of manmade chemicals in industry and consumer products sometimes known as “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down in the environment or the human body.
PFAS compounds are used in products that resist heat and repel oil, stains, grease and water. These toxic chemicals seep into ground and surface water supplies. There is evidence that some PFAS chemicals can cause adverse human health effects including low birth rates, cancer and compromised immune systems. The state of Colorado has banned certain PFAS chemicals from some new consumer products beginning in 2024.
La Plata County and Archuleta County residents can now have their private wells sampled and tested for PFAS chemicals at no cost. The program is targeting areas in the counties close to facilities where PFAS chemicals are known to be used or stored, but all well owners in both counties are encouraged to have their wells tested. Facilities that may have stored or used PFAS chemicals include airports, landfills and some fire stations. If you receive water from a municipality, water district or shared delivery system, contact your water provider for PFAS information. Several local public water providers have already tested their systems for PFAS contamination.
SJBPH Environmental Health staff will be available to discuss test results, which will be processed by a certified independent laboratory and can take up to 45 days to receive. Staff will assist well owners with determining next steps based on the test results. To have your well water tested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 335-2060.
There are several education events planned to help share information on PFAS chemicals and testing options. Join us from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Durango Public Library, 1900 E. Third Ave., Durango. Additional education events in Archuleta and La Plata counties will be announced in the weeks to come.