Residents needed for water contamination health study
Last updated 2/11/2022 at 10:22am
Individuals who lived in Fountain, Security, Widefield or Stratmoor Hills between 2006 and October 2015 are invited to participate in a new study that seeks to better understand the health impacts of water contamination across the Fountain Valley compared to other populations. Participants will receive gift cards.
"We are currently enrolling participants from the Fountain Valley communities for our multi-site PFAS study, 'CO SCOPE,'" said Stephanie Fernandes, MPH, a professional research assistant with the CU School of Public Health. "We are recruiting 1,000 adults and 300 children. Adults can receive up to $75 of gift cards for completing the study, and children can receive up to $100."
Communities in the Fountain Valley were exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their drinking water as a result of firefighting foam used at nearby Peterson Air Force Base (now called Peterson Space Force Base). Use and spills of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) containing PFAS occurred at Peterson primarily during firefighting training exercises. The PFAS traveled into the groundwater eventually affecting nearby water systems.
Testing from 2013 to 2016 began to show high levels of these contaminants around the Fountain Valley, and the announcement of the magnitude of this problem came in 2016. These drinking water systems had customers with sustained PFAS exposures greater than the current EPA health advisory. In 2016, all three systems took active measures to reduce PFAS exposure to customers.
"Based on information available to the ATSDR, drinking water supplies from all three systems currently meet federal PFAS guidelines," the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports.
In 2018, a health study, PFAS Assessment of Water and Resident Exposure (PFAS-AWARE), tested PFAS levels in approximately 200 people in El Paso County. Approximately 50 participants were retested in 2019. Information can be found online at pfas-aware.org.
In 2019, the CDC and the ATSDR started exposure assessments (EAs) in communities near current or former military bases known to have had PFAS in their drinking water. Individuals who participated in the EAs provided blood and urine samples to CDC/ATSDR for analysis. Organizers sent letters to participants that included their individual lab results.
CDC/ATSDR's exposure assessment is different from the PFAS-AWARE study. The exposure assessment was to help public health professionals better understand the overall PFAS exposure in the community (not just for those who participate) and may provide information to help communities across the nation. The exposure assessment will also test children older than 3 years old; the PFAS-AWARE study was limited to adults.
In 2019, CDC/ATSDR established a cooperative agreement with researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health (Colorado SPH) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to conduct a health study, called the Colorado Study of Community Outcomes from PFAS Exposure (CO-SCOPE). This study is part of a larger program, the ATSDR PFAS Multi-site Study (MSS), which aims to expand the knowledge between PFAS exposure and health outcomes among different populations.
The CO SCOPE team is hoping to determine how exposure to these chemicals may be impacting health of residents who drank contaminated water. This study is part of a nation-wide study funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
"We want to learn more about the historical contamination of the water supply in the Fountain Valley communities ... and to study health outcomes that may be potentially associated with exposure to per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, or PFAS for short, in the drinking water," Fernandes said.
The researchers will be collecting participant data on lipids, kidney function, liver function, thyroid and sex hormones, glucose and insulin parameters, markers of immune function, as well as neurobehavioral outcomes in children.
Children must be age 4 or older, but there is no upper age limit for adults.
Anyone ever employed as a firefighter, ever participated in fire training exercises using AFFF, or ever employed in industrial facilities that used PFAS chemicals in the manufacturing process are not eligible.
CO SCOPE has a local office at 320 S. Santa Fe Ave., Suite A, Fountain. Visit co-scope.org for more program information.
To enroll, email: [email protected]; or call (719) 425-8828