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What Are PFAS and How Can I Remove Them From My Water?

Some water contaminants are easy to identify by smell or taste — chlorine, sulfur and iron are common culprits. Some you can identify by discolored water, but others are much more insidious and difficult to detect. One such category of chemicals is known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. You might have heard of the term “forever chemicals,” which refers to these man-made substances that were created to be incredibly resilient and used for an enormous number of consumer products including nonstick pans, makeup, food packaging, insulation and more.

A study by the scientists at the Environmental Working Group found that more than 200 million Americans most likely have PFAS in their drinking water. So, what are PFAS? Are they dangerous? And how can you protect yourself from exposure? Find answers by reading on.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are man-made chemicals designed to endure extreme heat, water and oil. In short: they’re designed to be nearly indestructible. About 3,000 chemicals fall under the umbrella term of PFAS. Since their invention in 1946, they have been added to an almost unending list of consumer products, ranging from stain removers to pizza packaging. Because of their widespread use, almost everyone has been exposed to these chemicals.

What are PFAS found in?

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Fire fighting foams
  • Household cleaners
  • Stain-resistant carpets
  • Hairsprays and other cosmetic items
  • Water resistant clothing

Are PFOAs the same as PFAS?

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a man-made chemical created by 3M in 1947 and later sold to chemical manufacturer DuPont. It falls under the umbrella term of PFAS, a category used to describe a variety of man-made chemicals of similar makeup and application.

PFOA, which was formerly used to create Teflon, was used in hundreds of consumer products including carpets, cardboard, cookware, waxes, waterproof clothing and many more. It’s also a common water contaminant due to manufacturing plant leaks which end up seeping into local water supplies.

PFOA stands out from other PFAS because of their documented effects on health. PFOA was the subject of a 2001 class lawsuit which charged DuPont with contaminating water sources in Ohio and West Virginia. A PFOA leak occurred from a DuPont plant and eventually was linked to six diseases including kidney cancer. Eventually, PFOA was phased out of production, but due to the deliberate resilience of the chemical, it will continue to linger in water supplies, ecosystems and human bloodstreams for years to come.

Are PFAS Dangerous?

PFAS substances, including PFOA, have all been linked to a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, even low doses of these PFAS have been linked with the following health effects:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Birth defects
  • Liver damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer

Because PFAS were so widely used in manufacturing, it’s estimated that 99% of Americans have a measurable amount of PFAS in their bloodstreams. While production of PFAS/PFOA has been halted, the resilience of the chemicals mean they’ll be lurking in products and water supplies for decades. So, how can you eliminate PFAS dangers from your drinking water?

How to remove PFAS/PFOA
from drinking water

If you live near a manufacturing facility that used to produce or work with PFAS substances, you’ll want to take extra precautions with your drinking water. Since the United States government has been slow to initiate widespread cleanup efforts, it’s up to homeowners to take matters into their hands.

Right now, many water treatment systems are not capable of filtering PFAS from drinking water, but some filtrations systems including select reverse osmosis filtration systems do. Let’s take a look at how some reverse osmosis systems can reduce PFAS from drinking water.

Reverse osmosis systems work a little differently than other under sink or whole home filters. Learn how they use sophisticated technology to provide thorough filtration.

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How do select reverse osmosis (RO) systems reduce PFAS/PFOA from water?

Reverse osmosis systems use a powerful 3-stage filtration process that moves water through a carbon pre-filter, a semipermeable membrane and a post-filter. This advanced water filtration process relies on the sophisticated, semipermeable membrane and high-performance carbon blocks to reduce the most severe contaminants such as PFAS, chlorine, sediment, microbial cysts and lead from your home water supply. Clean water is directed into a storage tank, ready for use, while the waste water is flushed away.

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If you’re concerned about PFAS/PFOA contamination in your drinking water, it may be time to invest in a filtration system specifically designed to reduce these contaminants. It’s important to understand that not all RO systems are rated to reduce PFAS, though. EcoPureHome is proud to offer one that does: The Brita Total360 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System. This system installs directly under your sink, providing safe, clean water right to your tap.

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