High levels of PFCs found in groundwater at Air Force Academy

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Test will determine risk to drinking water wells outside the Academy, particularly Woodmen Valley area

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Groundwater at the U.S. Air Force Academy has tested positive for high levels of two types of toxic PFCs, the Academy announced Thursday.

The Academy said groundwater samples from several areas on the Academy were found to be above the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

The groundwater tested positive for elevated levels of two types of perfluorinated compounds: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFCs, are found in a firefighting foam the Air Force used from the 1970s until 2017.

The Academy said Colorado Springs Utilities, which supplies drinking water to the Academy, has not detected these compounds in its water treatment facilities above the method reporting limit of 10 parts per trillion. The most recent test of that water was earlier this year, according to the Academy.

However, because elevated levels of PFCs were found in groundwater on the Academy, drinking water wells south of the Academy could be affected.

The Air Force said they will conduct an expanded test to determine the risk to drinking water wells outside of the Academy, particularly in the Woodmen Valley area.

“Where Air Force operations are found to have contributed to PFOS and PFOA levels in drinking water above the EPA LHA, the Air Force will take immediate action to ensure residents whose private drinking water wells are impacted have access to safe drinking water,” the Academy said in a statement.

PFCs were found in water in Fountain and Security-Widefield in 2016. The contamination there is believed to have come from firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base.

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