Water is often regarded as the elixir of life, essential for our well-being – from oxygenating our bodies and supporting our mental well-being, to promoting healthy joints and a functional immune system – water is critical for our health. However, a growing body of research is shedding light on the potential detriments lurking within our tap water. One particular concern about tap water arises from the presence of “forever chemicals” which have recently come under scrutiny. In a groundbreaking study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it was revealed that much of the tap water in the United States is contaminated with these concerning chemicals. Let’s explore the implications of forever chemicals in our tap water and delve into the associated risks:
What are forever chemicals?
Forever chemicals, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are chemicals which possess remarkable properties, resisting heat, water, and oil, which earned them a place in various industrial and consumer applications. However, their persistence in the environment and potential health hazards have raised significant concerns. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to an array of health risks, including an increased risk of cancer, disruptions to reproductive and developmental systems, liver damage, compromised immune function, and hormonal disturbances. Safeguarding our health requires proactive measures to minimize exposure to these harmful chemicals.
The USGS Study On Tap Water In The US
Prepare for a shocking revelation! The USGS conducted a comprehensive study, analyzing tap water samples from all corners of the United States. The results? A staggering discovery that almost half of the samples were contaminated with PFAS, highlighting the widespread presence of these chemicals in our drinking water. While the western part of the US seems to have less worries, if you live in the US, you should check the map below to further explore the water findings in your region.
Image courtesy of the USGS study.
Water Filtration Systems and PFAS Removal
Fortunately, we have allies in the fight against forever chemicals — water filtration systems! These filters are equipped with the power to remove PFAS from tap water. Let’s explore some effective filtration options:
- High-Pressure Membranes: In the world of filtration, high-pressure membrane technologies like nanofiltration and reverse osmosis reign supreme. High-pressure membrane filters include nanofiltration (NF) and ultrafiltration (UF) systems, which use high-pressure membranes with smaller pore sizes compared to RO systems. NF and UF can effectively remove larger PFAS compounds, but smaller PFAS molecules like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) may require RO treatment.
- Reverse Osmosis systems: RO systems utilize a semi-permeable membrane that can effectively remove a wide range of contaminants, including PFAS. Water is forced through the membrane, which acts as a barrier, preventing the passage of molecules and ions. RO systems are considered one of the most efficient methods for PFAS removal.
- Ion Exchange Resins (IER): These resins can selectively capture and replace certain ions, including PFAS compounds, in water. Ion exchange filters use a resin bed that exchanges ions between the water and the resin. The PFAS ions are adsorbed onto the resin while other ions are released into the water. This method can effectively reduce PFAS concentrations.
- Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Filters: GAC filters, similar to activated charcoal filters, are designed to adsorb organic contaminants, including certain PFAS compounds. GAC filters have been shown to be effective in reducing PFAS levels in water, but their efficiency may vary depending on the specific PFAS compounds present.
- Two-Stage Filters: It’s a dynamic duo! Two-stage filters team up, combining activated carbon filters with nanofiltration or reverse osmosis membranes. Together, they tackle PFAS and other impurities, providing fresh filtered water.
To clean your tap water and put proper filtration to use, there are a variety of filtration options available for you. You can find pitchers, counter-top filters, or even filters which attach below the sink or to your home’s water system. The Environmental Working Group, have put some PFA-clearing water filters to test, finding that four brands in particular, reduce PFA presence by nearly 100%. These brands include: Zero Water, Clearly Filtered, Epic Water Filter, and Travel Berkey. Water quality and filtration requirements may vary, so consult experts or relevant authorities for personalized guidance!
While the presence of forever chemicals in tap water is concerning, we can take action to protect ourselves! By reducing our exposure to PFAS, we safeguard our health and ensure clean, pure water for ourselves and our families.