OUTDOORS + RECREATION

PFAS chemicals found in Park City water, ski wax to blame

Apr 16, 2024, 7:30 AM

Sam Snyder, ski technician, uses mountainFLOW Eco-Wax, a biodegradable, plant-based, fluoro-free wa...

Sam Snyder, ski technician, uses mountainFLOW Eco-Wax, a biodegradable, plant-based, fluoro-free wax, to wax skis at Lone Pine Gear Exchange in Millcreek, on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Traditional fluorinated ski waxes have PFAS, or forever chemicals, which can enter the watershed when snow melts. Lone Pine Gear Exchange does not use or sell any fluorinated ski wax. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2022, a potentially dangerous chemical was found in three Park City water wells. All signs point to the slopes and ski wax.

These chemicals in Park City’s water supply are classified as poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a common ingredient in ski wax. Experts believe the wax is sinking into the snow melt, then the soil and eventually into the waterways. 

“You know, last year, there were 7 million visits in the state of Utah,” said Erik Smith, founder of Board Budder. “When you think about all the wax that wears off of 7 million skis or snowboards, it adds up; it stacks up, and it can have a really big effect.”

Board Budder is developing a plant-based wax that is currently in the testing phase. Smith hopes those hitting the slopes will consider the effects of PFAS on our environment.

“PFAS is a type of forever chemical that doesn’t break down,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of health risks associated with these chemicals.”

Park City Mountain Resort is one of the only resorts in the state that has banned the use of fluoro wax. The International Ski Federation has banned the use of fluoro waxes in all its competitions. Vermont is the only state that has enacted a statewide ban so far.

PFAS in drinking water

Park City has said that the well water, where the PFAS was found, is blended with PFAS-free water from other water sources (surface water, spring, and tunnel water.) The City also said that the majority of the time PFAS levels are below EPA’s proposed quality standards by the time it gets to homes.

The EPA says there are a few things that you can do if you find PFAS in your drinking water. one of the tips is to install an in-home water treatment filter.

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PFAS chemicals found in Park City water, ski wax to blame