How to Remove PFAS and Forever Chemicals from Water

chemicals being dumped into water

How to Filter PFAS Out of Drinking Water

PFAS, PFOA, and GenX contamination are popping up in headlines across the nation, and movies such as "Dark Waters" are shedding light on the dangers of PFAS and other forever chemicals in our water systems.  

U.S. Geological Survey tested the nation's drinking water and found that at least 45 percent of water samples had one or more forever chemicals present.

These persistent and potentially harmful chemicals, commonly found in everyday products, have infiltrated water supplies, posing risks to human health.  

NOTE: PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances)is a large group of man-made chemicals that includes various compounds with fluorinated carbon chains. PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) is a specific type of PFAS and a subset within the broader category of PFAS.

 One effective solution to combat this contamination is the use of reverse osmosis water filters, which offer a powerful shield against "forever chemicals." 

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters: A Solution for Forever Chemicals

Reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration systems have emerged as a reliable and effective solution to remove PFOS and PFAS from drinking water.

In fact, many RO system can to remove more than 99% of PFAS depending on membrane characteristics, type of PFAS, and operating conditions.

RO technology works by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, trapping contaminants and allowing only pure water molecules to pass through. 

Because PFAS molecules are significantly larger than water molecules, they are unable to penetrate the RO membrane. As a result, reverse osmosis filtration can effectively remove these forever chemicals. 

Where are PFAS Forever Chemicals commonly found

What are the Dangers of Forever Chemicals in Water?

Health Risks
PFAS compounds, including well-known ones like PFOS, PFOA, and GenX have been linked to adverse health effects such as developmental issues, liver damage, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

PFAS can accumulate in the tissues of living organisms, including fish and other aquatic life. This can result in higher concentrations of forever chemicals in organisms higher up the food chain, posing a risk to both wildlife and humans who consume contaminated food.

Chemicals Never Leave
PFAS and other "forever chemicals" are particularly concerning is their resistance to breaking down over time and their prevalence in water sources. Exposure to PFAS through contaminated drinking water can pose long-term health risks. 

Contamination of Drinking Water
PFAS have been found in drinking water supplies around the world, including tap water and groundwater. Contaminated drinking water sources can lead to human exposure and associated health risks.

Is GenX Safer than PFOS?

Both PFOS and GenX are concerning due to their persistence in the environment and potential health effects.

While GenX was initially considered a safer alternative to some older PFAS, research is ongoing to understand the environmental fate and health implications of these newer compounds.

The scientific community continues to study the behavior, toxicity, and potential risks associated with various PFAS, including GenX, to inform regulatory decisions and public health guidelines.

mother and daughter drinking water

What are Forever Chemicals?

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been widely used in various industrial processes and consumer products, including non-stick cookware, water-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam.

PFAS are known for their unique properties, such as being resistant to water, grease, and oil, as well as their ability to withstand heat. 

These "forever chemicals" earned their nickname due to their resistance to breaking down in the environment, leading to long-term contamination in water sources.  

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a warning regarding these “forever” chemicals as they pose serious health risks, even at extremely low levels. 

“Once you're exposed, they remain in your body,” says Eric Yeggy, Technical Affairs Director for the Water Quality Association. “Nothing in nature can destroy them once they enter the environment.” 

What does that mean for your family and your drinking water? It's advisable to stay informed about your local water quality reports and install an RO water filter system that can remove "foremever chemicals".

Beakers with water

FAQs About Forever Chemicals in Water

How to Remove PFOS from Drinking Water

In a reverse osmosis system, activated carbon filtters and reverse osmosis membranes have proven to effectively eliminate more than 99% of PFAS from drinking water. Other filtration methods, such as nano filtration are shown to remove only 70–99% of PFAS.

How Do PFAS and PFOS Get Into Our Drinking Water

PFAS can enter drinking water sources through industrial discharges, runoff from firefighting foam, and the use of products containing PFAS. Contamination can occur in both surface water and groundwater.

What Health Risks are Associated with PFAS Exposure?

PFAS exposure has been linked to health issues, including low weight at birth in infants, diminished fertility, increased cholesterol levels, irregular thyroid hormone levels, inflammation of the liver, compromised immune system, and the potential for developing testicular and kidney cancer.

Can Boiling Water Remove PFAS?

Boiling water does not remove PFAS. In fact, it may concentrate the chemicals as water evaporates. Specialized water treatment methods are needed to address PFAS contamination.

Are Forever Chemicals Like PFAS in My Drinking Water

For PFAS testing of your water, get in touch with your state authorities to obtain a roster of labs certified for PFAS analysis using EPA Method 537. To locate EPA Certified Labs for assessing drinking water online, visit the EPA's website. If you receive water from a public supply, you can also inquire with your local water provider, as they might conduct PFAS sampling.

How Can I Test if My Drinking Water Contains PFAS?

Contact your local water utility or environmental agency to inquire about PFAS testing. They may provide information on water quality reports or offer testing services.

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