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Faculty & Staff Honors

Colorado: Part of Large National Study to Evaluate Health Consequences of Toxic “Forever Chemicals” in Drinking Water

Researchers at Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus received notification of a $1 million first-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to address the human health effects of contaminated drinking water in El Paso County, Colorado.

The study will explore the impacts of human exposure in both children and adults to a chemical mixture that residents had in their drinking water. The contamination is believed to have occurred when PFAS (poly- and perflouroalkyl substances) were used in firefighting and training activities at Peterson Air Force Base prior to 2016. The grant is part of the first nationwide study of the health effects of PFAS.

The multidisciplinary research team for the study includes Dr. John Adgate and Dr. Anne Starling of ColoradoSPH, as well as experts from Colorado School of Mines, Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the University of Southern California.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and local water utilities have been able to significantly reduce ongoing exposure of residents to PFAS since 2016 but given the persistence of PFAS compounds in the human body, the blood levels in residents will likely remain elevated for years.

The researchers will collect 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. Combined with individual residential histories, they will estimate cumulative lifetime exposure for each study participant for the unique PFAS mixture used in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) and explore impacts on health.

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