According to a recent study conducted by the University of Stockholm, researchers have found PFAS in every sample of rainwater on earth, including Antarctica, which renders rainwater unsafe for humans to drink…anywhere on earth. Let me guess - right now you’re asking yourself, “What are PFAS?!”
This blog will help you gain a better understanding of PFAS, the complications of these chemicals, and how to properly clean your water before consumption.
What Are PFAS?
PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of man-made chemicals that have been used as repellents in a multitude of different manufacturing processes since the 1940’s. Nearly every industry has incorporated these PFAS for decades - including food packaging, carpet, upholstery, clothing, cookware, and firefighting foam, electronics, furniture, etc. PFAS can enter the environment through industrial emissions, leaching from PFAS-containing products, and sewage overflows. The chemical bonds in these components are valued for their abilities to resist degradation, which is where their properties become of importance to major manufacturers across the globe. However, in the early 2000’s a number of these PFAS became banned in the production processes in the US, but the damage had already been done. Manufacturers overseas are still using these chemicals and so we still must be cognisant of the dangers that may still be present.
How Do PFAS Get Into Our Water?
PFAS find their way into our drinking water from soil to groundwater, or surface water. Your hot zones for PFAS contamination will be near manufacturing facilities. Ever seen the movie Erin Brockovich? Start thinking in that direction and you’re pretty much on track. A few other big areas where you might find these ‘forever chemicals’, as they’re often referred to, can be firefighter training centers (foam for training), airports and military bases. The term ‘forever chemical’ is used to describe the PFAS because it takes around four years for these compounds to break down and be excreted from the human body.
What Is The PFAS Danger Level, and How Do I Know If My Water Is Contaminated?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the maximum safe level of PFAS should be no greater than 70 PPT (Parts Per Trillion). It is notable to mention that, although this health advisory is meant to educate both the public and state health officials, it is not enforceable.
The simplest way to know if/how contaminated your water is to contact your local water municipality to request the latest test results. Municipal water facilities test their water frequently, and they are required by law to share those test results when a request has been made. To take it another step, you can also contact a state certified laboratory to submit a sample of your water for further testing. If you are on well water, then the responsibility is in your hands to clean your own water. Since PFAS are odorless and tasteless, testing is the only method for which you can obtain the results.
Think that you’re in the clear if you choose to go with bottled water? Think again! Yes, unfortunately, PFAS have been detected in bottled water and canned carbonated water. A recent study by Consumer Reports found that most bottled and canned water have detectable levels of PFAS, but only nine brands had levels over 1 part per trillion (PPT). Of the nine brands with levels over 1 PPT, two produce still water and seven produce carbonated water. The study tested 47 brands of bottled and canned water. The results of the study are concerning because PFAS have been linked to various health problems, including cancer. However, it is important to note that the levels of PFAS detected in the water were generally low. Nevertheless, the findings of the study suggest that more needs to be done to reduce the presence of PFAS in our environment.
What Kind of Health Risks Do PFAS Carry?
The health effects of PFAS exposure vary depending on the individual, but can include reproductive, developmental, and immunological problems. Since PFAS don’t easily break down and can accumulate in the human body, the more exposure a person has, the greater the chance of negative health effects. The EPA has cited evidence linking PFAS exposure to increased cholesterol levels, suppressed immune system function, thyroid hormone disruption, liver and kidney damage, low infant birth weight, and cancer. While more research is needed to fully understand the potential health effects of PFAS exposure, it is clear that there is a potential for serious health problems associated with these chemicals.
How do I Remove PFAS From My Water?
As a rule of thumb, we’re all familiar with the standard - boil for 5 minutes just to be sure. consumption. Despite what you may have heard, boiling water does not remove PFAS. In fact, heat does not break down PFAS, and instead concentrates the chemicals and renders them more dangerous if ingested. While boiling water may remove some impurities, it will not remove PFAS. Some methods for reducing PFAS in drinking water include treatment with activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters.
A reverse osmosis (RO) system uses pressure to push unfiltered water through a semipermeable membrane. The membrane has small pores that block contaminants, such as PFAS, but allow clean water to flow through to the other side. As a result, RO systems are one of the most effective ways to remove contaminants from water. In addition to being highly effective, RO systems are also compact and easy to operate. As such, they are a popular choice for both residential and commercial applications. If you are looking for a comprehensive water treatment solution, a reverse osmosis system is an excellent option to consider.
Activated Carbon Filtration
Activated carbon filtration is an effective way to remove contaminants from water, including PFAS. Carbon filters contain activated carbon that has an abundance of pores along its surface and infrastructure. When water runs through the activated carbon, PFAS and other contaminants are captured or altered by a process called adsorption. As a result, clean water emerges on the other side. Activated carbon filtration is a popular choice for drinking water filtration because it is highly effective and relatively affordable. In addition, activated carbon filters do not require electricity to operate, making them an appealing option for those who live in rural areas or off the grid.
Ion exchange water treatment systems are an important tool in the fight against PFAS contamination. These systems work by exchanging ions with a similar charge, which helps to remove PFAS and other contaminants from water. Ion exchange systems can be used to treat both surface water and groundwater, making them an essential part of any water treatment plan. In addition to removing contaminants, ion exchange systems can also help to improve the taste and smell of water. This makes them an ideal solution for communities that are concerned about their water quality.
Everyone’s situation can present its own challenges. If you’re searching for a filter for your home water system, then you’ll want to consider a RO filter. These filters are generally a bit larger, more expensive, and that’s simply because they rely upon multiple stages for the process to be complete - around four or five stages. Don’t risk the safety of your family and loved ones - invest in a system that you know can take care of the job. If you’re on the move, then you’ll want to invest in a quality carbon filtering system. These systems are generally more affordable and can be transported with the greatest of ease. We highly recommend the GeoPress by Grayl. The GeoPress is a widely used personal filter that has taken the survival, bushcraft, and preparedness industries by storm since hitting the scene a few years ago. If you haven’t heard of Grayl, then don’t sell yourself short - check them out today!