Have you heard the term “forever chemicals” before? These chemicals are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFOA) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid). These PFA chemicals are a group of human-made chemicals that have been used in many industry and consumer products since the 1950s.
There are thousands of PFAS chemicals. They can be in everyday products most of us such as: personal care products, drinking water, cleaning products, and non-stick cookware. Since they contain carbon and fluorine, they do not break down easily. This is why they’re referred to as “forever chemicals.” PFAS are found in animal and human blood across the world due to common use of the chemicals.
How Can You be exposed?
Exposure to PFAS typically occurs when a person breathes, eats, drinks, or touches a chemical and it enters their body. PFAS can be in drinking water, food, dust, consumer products, and more. You can also be exposed to them if you work with or around PFAS or eat food grown or raised in PFAS contaminated soil or water. If you do not work around PFAS, you are more likely to be exposed by your drinking water or by common household products.
- Nonstick cookware is fluoropolymer coated – a type of PTFE. While most companies claim their products are now PFOA-free, they may still be coated with fluoropolymers. This chemical is very similar to PFOA and provides the same health concerns. It is also difficult to determine what is used to coat the cookware as a consumer. Discard any scratched nonstick pans to reduce possible exposure to PFAS.
- Grease resistant take out containers. PFAS can be used to make paper or cardboard containers resistant to grease and oil. After testing was conducted on take out containers, PFAS were found in McDonalds, Wendy’s, Cava, and many others.
- Cosmetics – particularly water-proof products or “long-lasting” products. PFAS are added to make-up products to increase their durability and resistance to water. In a recent study, high levels of fluorine were found in many eye, lip, and face products.
These are just a few of the everyday items PFAS can be found in. Although recent efforts to remove PFAS from products reduced the likelihood of exposure, some products may still contain them. We encourage you to perform your own research on products you use to reduce your exposure to these chemicals.
PFAS In Drinking Water
One of the most common ways to be exposed to PFAS is your drinking water. Since these chemicals do not break down easily, they stay in your tap water for a long period of time, increasing your risk of exposure.
There are ways to lower the amount of PFAS or PFOS in your drinking water. You can install a point-of-use water filtration system. The National Sanitation Foundation provides a list of certified products that can treat and reduce the amount of PFA chemicals in your water. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) created an interactive map, so you can explore if your area is contaminated with PFAS.
How To Reduce Your Exposure to PFAS
There are several ways you can reduce exposure to PFAS and find out if your drinking water is contaminated. This applies to both public drinking water systems and well water. For public drinking water systems:
- Get your water tested or request information if it was previously tested for PFAS.
- Compare results to your state’s standard PFA level, if applicable, or the EPA’s health advisory level. This way you will know if you have a safe level of PFAS in your water.
- Install in-home water treatment. If you are still concerned your PFA levels are too high, you can install an in-home water treatment filter that will lower the levels. The EPA has provided the public with certified water treatment filter options.
How To Treat Private Wells For PFAS
There are a few differences for PFAS treatment if you have a private water well. The EPA does not regulate or provide many recommendations for private wells. However, they do provide tips on how you can test and treat your water if you are concerned.
- Test your well water regularly. This will inform you of any PFAS and other possible contaminants.
- Contact your state environmental or health agency. They can provide advice on your water and give a list of state-certified laboratories using EPA testing methods on your drinking water.
How You Can Remove PFAS From Your Drinking Water
There are various options to reduce PFAS exposure in your water. At Suburban Water Technology, our first step is to have our water specialists test your water. From here we can determine the level of toxicity with your water. We recommend the best treatment options based on your water test results.
With our recommended treatment plans, we can provide your family with clean and safe water. Whether you’re looking for the best treatment plan to remove PFAS or want to target a different water quality issue – we can help you. Visit our website to learn more, or if you’re in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey area call us: 1-800-525-6464.