Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of artificial chemicals used in many industries and products, such as furniture, cookware, food packaging, and firefighting foam. Unfortunately, these chemicals can enter the water supply through runoff from industrial sites or manufacturing processes. Knowing how to filter PFAS from water to protect drinking water supplies is essential.
Filtering out PFAS is called point of entry filtration (POE). POE systems use reverse osmosis technology, activated carbon filtration, or ion exchange to remove PFAS from the water before it enters the home. These systems are typically installed at the main supply line in a home, where they can remove PFAS and other harmful contaminants like arsenic, lead, and chloroform. POE filtration is an effective way to reduce levels of PFAS in drinking water supplies.
What Does PFAS Stand For?
PFAS stands for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. These are a group of artificial chemicals used in numerous consumer products and industrial processes. They have been widely used since the 1950s and can be found in products like nonstick cookware, fast food wrappers, waterproof clothing, and firefighting foam. These compounds are resistant to heat, water, and oil, making them ideal for many industrial applications. However, they can be toxic and linked to health issues like cancer and hormone disruption.
Because of their chemical composition, PFAS are very difficult to break down naturally in the environment. As a result, these chemicals can build up in the environment and accumulate in water sources. For this reason, it is essential to filter out PFAS from drinking water supplies.
How to Filter PFAS From Water?
- Reverse osmosis: Reverse osmosis is an effective method for reducing PFAS contamination in drinking water. The process passes water through a membrane that removes contaminants, including most PFASs. Reverse osmosis systems are often used to filter PFAS from municipal water supplies and wastewater treatment plants, as well as in homes and businesses with private well systems.
- Granular activated carbon filter: Granular activated carbon filters are made up of tiny granules of activated carbon. These granules trap and filter out PFAS molecules as water passes through, just like a regular activated carbon filter. However, the smaller size of the granules allows for a more thorough filtering process, removing even more PFAS from the water.
- Ion Exchange Treatment: Ion exchange treatment is a process that uses positively charged media to replace positively charged ions, such as PFAS molecules, with other substances. The process can be used in public and private well systems to reduce the amount of PFAS in drinking water.
How Does PFAS Get Into Water?
Because PFAS have been used so extensively, they have been able to make their way into the environment. Sources of PFAS in water include:
• Discharge from industrial and manufacturing sites that directly use or produce PFAS.
• Leaching from landfills containing PFAS-containing materials.
• Runoff from agricultural fields where treated with PFAS-containing products.
• Wastewater treatment plant effluent.
• Accidental spills of PFAS-containing products.
• Discharge from airports, military bases, and other sites where firefighting activities occur.
Why Is PFAS Dangerous?
PFAS are dangerous because they are very resistant to degradation by natural processes, meaning they build up in the environment over time. These substances can quickly move through the environment and have been found in water supplies worldwide. Furthermore, studies show that exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause health risks. For example, long-term exposure has been linked to thyroid hormone disruption and cancer risk.
- Cause developmental effects in infants: Studies have also found that exposure to PFAS in pregnant women is associated with delayed infant development. If a person is exposed to PFAS chemicals during pregnancy, their baby may experience developmental delays and other issues like increased risk of asthma and allergies.
- Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant: PFAS (per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) is a group of artificial chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products. Unfortunately, they are not biodegradable and persist in the environment, eventually making their way into our water supply. For this reason, it is essential to take measures to filter PFAS from water.
- Increase a woman’s blood pressure during pregnancy: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of artificial chemicals used since the 1940s in products such as nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam. While PFAS can be beneficial in specific uses, they are increasingly being found in our environment and drinking water, posing a risk to human health.
- Lower infant birth weights: Exposures to PFAS have been linked to lower birth weights in infants, which can lead to both short-term and long-term health complications.
- Interfere with the body’s natural hormones: PFAS (per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of human-made chemicals with unique chemical structures that make them highly resistant to heat, water, and oil. PFAS have been linked to many serious health concerns, including cancer, liver damage, thyroid problems, high cholesterol, and interference with the body’s natural hormones. Studies have also linked PFAS to reproductive issues, such as decreased fertility and early menopause in women.
- Increase cholesterol levels: PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are a family of more than 5,000 synthetic chemicals used in many consumer products. Due to their non-biodegradable nature and potential health risks, these chemicals can be dangerous in drinking water supplies.
- Affect the immune system: PFAS can affect the immune system by reducing its ability to respond effectively to pathogenic antigens and other environmental insults. They have been shown to reduce antibody production, decrease cellular responses in normal healthy adults, and increase the susceptibility of individuals with compromised immune systems. As a result, filtering PFAS from water is very important for ensuring public health and safety.
- Increase the risk of cancer: it increases the risk of testicular, kidney, and liver cancer, among other diseases.
How do I know if there’s PFAS in my tap water?
PFAS is not detectable in tap water without specialized testing. If you are concerned, contact your local municipality and inquire about any tests that may have been performed on the tap water in your area.
Are any other technologies capable of PFAS removal?
Yes, other technologies such as reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, and ion exchange can also be used to remove PFAS from water. However, their effectiveness in removing PFAS depends on the type of contamination present and the specific characteristics of these materials.
Will boiling water remove PFAS?
No, boiling water will not remove PFAS. Boiling water can reduce some impurities, but it is not an effective method of removing PFAS from contaminated water. The only way to guarantee the removal of PFAS is to use specialized filtration technology designed specifically for this purpose.
How do I know if I’m at risk of PFAS exposure?
Everyone is at risk of exposure to PFAS if they drink water that contains it. However, individuals who live close to industrial or military sites where these chemicals are used or discharged and those with private wells may be more likely to experience higher levels of PFAS contamination in their drinking water.
Will the Filter Pitcher in My Fridge Remove PFAS?
No, a filter pitcher in your fridge will not effectively remove PFAS. This type of filtration is typically used for removing sediment and other particulate matter from water but cannot remove PFAS particles.
What if I have a private water well?
If you have a private water well, it is essential to contact your local municipality or utility and inquire about any tests that may have been performed on the water. If PFAS is present in the water, specialized filtration technology should be used to remove these compounds. It is also recommended to have your water regularly tested to ensure that levels of PFAS remain low.
Regarding water filtration, PFAS are some of the most difficult contaminants to remove. Currently, reverse osmosis is the primary method for removing these compounds from drinking water sources on a large scale. However, various other methods can be used to filter out smaller amounts of PFAS. Activated carbon and anion exchange resins are two of the most common technologies used to reduce PFAS from water, as well as oxidation processes such as ozonation and advanced oxidation. It is important to remember that even with a filtration system, there may still be trace amounts of PFAS in the water supply.
Meet Jeffrey B Roberts, your dedicated guide into the realm of water science and technology. As a hydro biologist with an insatiable curiosity, Jeffrey’s journey has been one of unraveling the mysteries of water systems and advocating for clean, safe water for all.
With an academic background steeped in the sciences, Jeffrey’s passion lies at the crossroads of science, technology, and nature. A deep fascination with plants and genetics has not only enriched their understanding of aquatic ecosystems but has also propelled them into the world of water softening solutions.
Believing that clean water is a basic human right, Jeffrey’s writing transcends the technicalities, making the intricate world of water softening accessible to all. Through their blog, they ardently share insights, tips, and breakthroughs, empowering readers to make informed decisions about their water quality.
Beyond his role as a prolific writer, Jeffrey is a respected figure in the hydronics industry education. With years of hands-on experience, they serve as an adjunct professor, nurturing the next generation of experts at the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. His involvement on the Technical Advisory Board further cements their dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation in water technology.