Can a PFAS Water Filter Protect My Drinking Water from Forever Chemicals?
Can a PFAS water filter really help you protect your family’s drinking water from potentially harmful forever chemicals? With the prevalence of PFAS chemicals in the products we use, the food we eat and the water we drink, many people have begun to make a targeted effort to stop the influx wherever they can.
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to ingest forever chemicals. However, there are no current requirements for managing them under National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does have plans underway, but they may not be enacted until the end of 2023 at the earliest. Some states or municipalities may test for these contaminants anyway, but even that testing may not reveal if any of the thousands of PFAS chemicals are in your water or which ones are there. That leaves it up to individual households to ensure their drinking water is safe.
As part of our commitment to keeping our Pueblo and Colorado Springs neighbors safe and healthy, we’ve broken down the basics of forever chemical contamination, as well as ways you can slow their impact on your household.
What Are Forever Chemicals?
The presence of forever chemical drinking water contaminants should be a concern for everyone. One study has shown that over 95% of Americans have PFAS chemicals in their blood. The term “forever chemicals” describes per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), synthetic chemicals that can take a lifetime to break down on their own – if they break down at all. As CleanWater.org explains it, “PFAS are characterized by a chain of fluorine-carbon bonds, which is among the strongest bonds in chemistry, leading to an incredibly stable chemical.” Clean Water notes that some chemicals may not ever degrade in nature without man made intervention, hence the notorious “forever” label. As it stands, it can take nearly a decade for some of these chemicals to leave the human body.
PFAS chemicals are strong as part of their design. They help make clothing resistant to grease stains or keep food from sticking to a hot pan. They are in our food, our fabrics, our furniture, our cookware and in many other products that we consider essential to daily life. There are currently more than 9,000 known PFAS forever chemicals and it is no exaggeration to say that they are everywhere. They have even been found in parts of the world where no PFAS chemicals should exist. While recent studies have shown that there may be a new method to remove these chemicals from the environment over time, they won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Until a coordinated effort is made to eliminate PFAS, it is on us to do our best to mitigate their impact on our homes and our bodies.
Why Are Forever Chemicals Harmful?
The full impact and potential harm of PFAS on humans, animals and the environment are still being studied. However, there is some current data that illustrates how they affect the human body. According to a 2022 article published online by PEW Charitable Trusts, forever chemicals “may decrease fertility, cause metabolic disorders, damage the immune system and increase the risk of cancer.”
In a Penn State research article, associate professor, Heather Preisendanz explained the problem even further, “Unfortunately, these compounds have been shown to negatively impact ecological and human health, particularly because they can bioaccumulate up the food chain and affect development in children, increase risk of cancer, contribute to elevated cholesterol levels, interfere with women’s fertility and weaken immune systems.” As you can see, reducing PFAS or eliminating them altogether, is important to both physical and environmental safety.
How Can a PFAS Water Filtration System Help?
A PFAS water filtration system can remove PFAS in drinking water. However, the overall effectiveness will vary from one system to another. For example, one Duke study showed that many activated carbon filters (charcoal) or pitcher inserts are not that effective at reducing PFAS contamination. The good news is that there are effective filtration systems. The Duke study touts “under-sink reverse osmosis filters and two-stage filters,” noting that they were efficient at removing toxic PFAS (a significant reduction in specific contaminants).
Whole home water filtration systems can also help your family filter forever chemicals. However, it is important to do your research to ensure that the system you select is designed for that type of contaminant. Some whole home drinking water filters only prevent more common contaminants. Certain models can even increase the number of PFAS in the water or filter the water so thoroughly that they remove important treatment chemicals meant to prevent bacteria or other contaminants from flourishing. You do not want to trade your PFAS for mold and infection.
You can review reports about PFAS water filtration systems online. You can also consult a licensed plumber to learn more about choosing the best water filter for forever chemicals. Their expertise can be extremely helpful in guiding you through the process.
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What is Being Done to Reduce Forever Chemicals in Colorado Drinking Water? Can You Drink Tap Water in Colorado?
Colorado PFAS regulations have increased in recent years to reduce the opportunities for forever chemicals to leach into Colorado tap water. HB22-1345, known as the Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Chemicals Consumer Protection Act, has increased regulatory practices and labeling requirements to help consumers make more informed decisions. By banning certain products, lawmakers hope to slow Colorado water contamination by forever chemicals. You can get a closer look at some areas of concern in the state with this national forever chemicals map and this PFAS Colorado map.
At the municipal level, both Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo’s water treatment facilities do test source water for a small number of known PFAS. However, those test results do not mean that Colorado Springs tap water or Pueblo tap water is free of forever chemicals when it runs from the tap. There are miles of pipes between the hard work of our utility workers and our kitchen faucets.
Flow Right Can Help You Install a New Water Filter for PFAS
Flow Right’s experienced team of licensed plumbers can help you install a variety of water filters that remove PFAS. If you would like to learn more about how to remove PFAS from water, call our offices today. We’ll answer your questions and share next steps for getting your system up and running.