Water is a crucial component of life, but its purity is equally vital. One growing concern around the globe is the contamination of water with Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of man-made chemicals. These persistent environmental pollutants can infiltrate our drinking water and pose potential health risks.
This article sheds light on PFAS, their presence in your water, the implications of their existence, and, most importantly, how to remove them. Ensuring access to clean, uncontaminated water is fundamental to promoting health and well-being.
What Are PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. Known for their resistance to heat, water, and oil, PFAS are widely used in various industries. They’re found in firefighting foams, stain repellents, nonstick cookware, and even some food packaging.
The two most studied and commonly found types of PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Both compounds are no longer manufactured in the United States, but they’re still produced internationally and can be imported.
Unfortunately, PFAS are incredibly persistent, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” They do not break down naturally in the environment, leading to long-term accumulation and potential health risks.
Where Can PFAS Be Found?
PFAS can be found nearly everywhere due to their widespread use and durability. They’ve been detected in various environmental media, including air, soil, and water. PFAS can leach into soil and groundwater, contaminating drinking water supplies.
Notably, areas near industrial sites where PFAS were produced or used, near airports or military bases where firefighting foam containing PFAS was used, and near wastewater treatment plants are especially at risk of contamination.
Moreover, PFAS can enter your home through household products containing these chemicals. From your non-stick cookware to water- and stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, PFAS are more common than you might think.
Why Do I Have PFAS in My Water?
The presence of PFAS in your water can be traced back to various sources. Industrial and municipal wastewater discharges can release PFAS into water bodies. Leaching from contaminated soil or landfill sites where PFAS-containing products are disposed of can also contribute to the contamination of groundwater.
The use of firefighting foams at airports or military bases is another significant source of PFAS, as these substances can seep into the ground and contaminate groundwater supplies. Given their stability and persistence, once PFAS enter the water cycle, they continue to circulate, contaminating drinking water sources.
Lastly, even your household plumbing system can introduce PFAS into your tap water if it contains PFAS-based products like thread sealants.
Why Are PFAS Bad?
PFAS pose a potential risk to human health. Studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals can lead to adverse health effects. These include potential effects on growth, learning, and behavior in infants and children, lower fertility in women, interference with the body’s natural hormones, increase in cholesterol levels, and even an increased risk of certain cancers.
The danger lies in the fact that PFAS accumulate in the body over time, and due to their “forever” nature, they don’t readily exit our bodies. Therefore, even low levels of exposure can lead to significant health concerns over time.
It’s important to note that most people are exposed to PFAS, but exposure does not always result in health problems. It’s always best to consult with healthcare providers about concerns related to PFAS exposure.
How Do I Know if I Have PFAS in My Water?
Detecting PFAS in your water isn’t something you can do with the naked eye or even taste. If you suspect your water might be contaminated with PFAS, particularly if you live in a high-risk area, the best way to confirm is through laboratory testing. Numerous commercial laboratories offer services to test for the presence of PFAS in drinking water.
Some local or state health departments also offer testing for PFAS. It’s worth reaching out to them for guidance. In addition, some water providers may have already tested for PFAS and can share those results.
Keep in mind, however, that testing can be expensive and is not always feasible for everyone. But knowing whether you have PFAS in your water is the first step towards mitigating potential risks.
How To Remove PFAS From Water
If you have detected PFAS in your water, don’t despair. There are proven methods available to reduce or remove PFAS from your water. Let’s explore some of the most effective ones.
Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters are a common method of reducing PFAS levels in water. These filters work by adsorbing the chemicals onto the surface of the activated carbon. The effectiveness of these filters varies depending on the type and concentration of PFAS present.
Remember, all filters have a lifespan, after which their effectiveness diminishes. I’s crucial to replace filters as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure consistent PFAS removal.
Specific types of Ion exchange, like positively charged anion exchange resins (AER), are another method used to remove PFAS from water. This process works by exchanging PFAS ions in the water with other less harmful ions in a resin, effectively removing the PFAS from the water.
Ion exchange systems can be complex and might require more maintenance than other filtration systems. Also, like activated carbon filters, the resins used in these systems need to be replaced periodically to ensure their effectiveness.
Reverse osmosis is a highly effective method for reducing PFAS in water. It works by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which acts like a very fine filter to create drinkable water. This process can remove up to 99% of water impurities, including PFAS.
However, reverse osmosis systems can be expensive to install and maintain, and they can use a significant amount of water. Therefore, they may not be the best solution for everyone.
The Right Option for Removing PFAS Chemicals From Your Water Supply
Choosing the right filtration process to remove PFAS from your water supply will depend on several factors, including the type and concentration of PFAS in your water, your budget, and your household’s water usage. It is also crucial to consider the maintenance and potential operating costs that come with each filtration method.
Before settling on a filtration method, consider having your water professionally tested. Knowing the exact type and concentration of PFAS in your water can guide you toward the most effective filtration method. Reverse osmosis membranes and reverse osmosis filters can be helpful, but they might cost more up front. Activated carbon filters are often used as a part of drinking water treatment systems, but you need to make sure they are right for your needs. Get your water tested to ensure you know what is in your supply. Then, you can figure out which option can best remove the chemicals in your water supply.
Finally, consult with a trusted water treatment professional. They can provide expert advice tailored to your situation, ensuring you choose a system that will provide safe, clean water for your home. Be sure to inquire about both the initial costs and ongoing maintenance of any system you are considering.
Rely on DROP for the Best Water Softeners and Water Filters
Navigating water quality issues like PFAS can be complex, but with DROP, you have a reliable partner to guide you. We offer high-quality water softeners and water filters, designed to provide you with clean, safe water.
Our water softeners not only work to eliminate hard water issues but also have the potential to reduce certain water contaminants. Meanwhile, our water filters are designed to eliminate harmful contaminants, ensuring that the water you consume is safe. Do not forget to explore our exceptional reverse osmosis units, which could provide you and your household with the clean, purified water you are looking for!
While PFAS are a concerning reality in our environment, steps can be taken to mitigate their presence in your drinking water. Trust DROP to be part of your solution. Together, we can ensure that the water you consume is clean, safe, and healthy.