In the news in recent years, there have been a number of disturbing reports about PFAS. They have even been described as “forever chemicals” that are contaminating the water supply in many areas of the U.S. When we watch or read stories about PFAS, it’s natural to feel concerned, but the best way to fix a problem is to understand it first. In this article, we will explain what PFAS are, the associated risks, and what you can do to prevent these chemicals from degrading your water supply.

What is PFAS?

The acronym PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and they are chemicals that are used to produce non-stick cooking items. Since the 1940s, these chemicals have been used in a wide variety of products including non-stick cookware, food packaging, and even firefighting foam.

PFAS doesn’t exist in nature, these are man-made chemicals that degrade at a very slow rate after they enter the environment. Of course, nothing lasts forever, but they do have significant longevity and this is why they have been referred to as “forever chemicals”. Some recent studies have revealed that PFAS has appeared in more water than scientists had previously thought which is a source of concern.

What are the PFAS Health Risks?

Sadly, the longevity of PFAS chemicals is not restricted to water and they tend to linger in our bloodstream too. Some recent estimations are that millions of American citizens may be carrying various concentrations of PFAS in their bloodstream. Research on the health risks of PFAS has revealed tenuous connections to the following: decreased fertility, elevated cholesterol, higher thyroid hormone levels, weaker immune systems, liver inflammation, low infant birth rate, and kidney and testicular cancer. More scientific study is needed on PFAS chemicals, but given what we already know they should be avoided.

How Can I Remove PFAS Chemicals?

PFAS chemicals have been phased out in commercial products, but they are still used in the production of firefighting foams. So, it’s unlikely that you will purchase new products that contain PFAS chemicals. But, it may be a good idea to look at older pieces of non-stick cookware that you may have and consider an upgrade to something safer.

The main risk of PFAS contamination is in our drinking water and these chemicals are not removed at a public water treatment plant. For this reason, many private well water and public water users have invested in water treatment systems. Adding a final layer of protection to remove a wide variety of contaminants including PFAS chemical makes good sense.

Once the decision to install a water filtration system that can remove PFAS is made the process is pretty simple. There are many water purification systems that handle the tasks, including granular activated carbon (GAC), reverse osmosis (RO,) and anion exchange treatments. These are all tried and tested filtration systems that can be installed as point-of-use (POU) systems at a single faucet or whole-home systems for every plumbing fixture.

If you want to remove PFAS chemicals and other contaminants from your water supply, contact your local water treatment specialist.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.