On April 10, the EPA established the first national drinking water standard to limit exposure to PFAS, aiming to protect public health from their harmful effects. This rule is part of the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and is expected to significantly reduce PFAS exposure, benefiting around 100 million people by preventing thousands of deaths and reducing many serious illnesses. This action aligns with President Biden’s broader initiative to tackle PFAS pollution across the government.

To provide some background for context, chemists developed PFAS in the 1930s, introducing products like nonstick pans and waterproof clothing. Recently, these chemicals have been linked to serious health issues, including cancer and liver damage. Found in most Americans’ blood and many water systems, PFAS prompted the EPA to set strict limits in April 2024. Despite these efforts, PFAS remain challenging to eradicate from the environment. The recently set limits – between 4 and 10 parts per trillion for PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFNA, and GenX – are less than a drop of water in a thousand Olympic-sized swimming pools, which speaks to the chemicals’ toxicity. Under the new EPA rules, public water systems have until 2027 to complete monitoring for PFAS and provide publicly available data. If they find PFAS at concentrations that exceed the new limits, then they must install a treatment system by 2029.

In July, a U.S. Geological Survey study estimated that at least 45% of U.S. tap water contains at least one type of PFAS chemical. USGS researchers tested 716 locations nationwide and found the forever chemicals more frequently in samples that were collected near urban areas and potential sources of PFAS like military installations, airports, industrial sites, and wastewater treatment plants, according to Kelly Smalling, a USGS research chemist and lead author of the study.

Steps to protect your home from PFAS: Your first instinct might be to use bottled water to try to avoid PFAS exposures, but a recent study found that even bottled water can contain these chemicals. And bottled water is regulated by a different federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration, which has no standards for PFAS.

Your best option is to rely on the same technologies that treatment facilities will be using:

  1. Activated carbon is similar to charcoal. Like a sponge, it will capture the PFAS, removing it from the water. Note that many refrigerator manufacturers’ filters are not certified for PFAS, so don’t assume they will remove PFAS to safe levels.
  2. Ion exchange resin is the same technology found in many home water softeners. Like activated carbon, it captures PFAS from the water, and you can find this technology in many pitcher filter products. If you opt for a whole house treatment system, which a our installers can attach where the water enters the house, ion exchange resin is probably the best choice. But it is on the more expensive side.
  3. Reverse osmosis is a membrane technology that only allows water and select compounds to pass through the membrane, while PFAS are blocked. This is commonly installed at the kitchen sink and has been found to be very effective at removing most PFAS in water. It is not practical for whole-house treatment but is likely to remove a lot of other contaminants as well.

Give us a call at Smarter Water Solutions as we have many technologies to remove PFAS and can review the options depending on your particular budgetary water constraints.

Citation:Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes First-Ever National Drinking Water Standard to Protect 100M People from PFAS Pollution


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By Published On: April 22nd, 2024