Everything You Need To Know About PFAS in Your Water
- 07 Jan, 2022
PFAS have recently come to the attention of many as an extremely dangerous compound that is often found in residential water supplies. With this knowledge, more and more are seeking answers to what these chemicals are, how they affect the body, and how one can purify them out of the water system. As such, this article will cover:
- What PFAS are
- Common ways people are exposed to PFAS
- The commonality of PFAS exposure
- The health concerns of PFAS
- The environmental concerns of PFAS
- What you can do about PFAS
Here is everything you need to know about PFAS in your water.
What Are PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are highly stable man-made compounds with the ability to repel both water and oil. Varying PFAS have different lengths and qualities on one end, which can affect the toxicity of the compounds. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most frequent and well-studied PFAS (PFOS). These compounds' fat- and water-repellent qualities allowed them to be applied to nearly any material, to make them water, oil, and stain resistant. These qualities have been employed in a wide range of consumer products since the 1950s, including carpets, textiles, non-stick pans, paints, polishes, waxes, cleaning products, and food packaging. They're used in firefighting foam by firefighters and the military.
Common Ways People Are Exposed To PFAS
Near industrial regions where PFAS is frequently manufactured, disposed of, or used, public water systems and drinking water wells, soil, and outdoor air are all at risk. PFAS exposure can arise as a result of:
- Indoor air or dust in areas containing PFAS-treated carpets, textiles, and other consumer products that are stain-resistant
- Surface water (lakes, ponds, and so on) or groundwater absorbing runoff or seepage from regions where firefighting foam was frequently employed (like military or civilian airfields)
- Fish caught in polluted bodies of water
- Food items for sale at the market
- Packaging for food
How Common Is PFAS Exposure?
Human exposure to PFAS is common, according to studies, and most people in the United States and other industrialized countries have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. Even if they did not drink polluted water, it is doubtful that they will have a "zero" PFAS level in their blood. U.S. makers of PFAS-related products stopped producing PFOS in 2002 and PFOA in 2013, however they continue to make shorter-chain PFAS. The levels of PFOA and PFOS in the blood of the general population have been falling since they were phased out, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, because these compounds stay in the human body for years after exposure and even longer in the environment, it will be a long time before they are no longer present in blood.
What Are the Health Concerns That Result From Contact With PFAS?
When people ingest PFAS (by eating or drinking PFAS-contaminated food or water), the PFAS are absorbed and can buildup in the body. PFAS can be discovered in blood, urine, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood at significantly lower amounts. PFAS can persist in the human body for a long time. As a result, as people are exposed to PFAS from a variety of sources over time, the amount of PFAS in their bodies may increase, potentially causing health problems. The risk of negative health impacts is influenced by a number of parameters, including the amount and concentration of PFAS consumed, as well as the duration of exposure.
The health implications of PFAS exposure are still being researched by scientists. Women who are pregnant or who are planning to get pregnant, as well as children, are the most concerned. We can't say for sure what kinds of health problems people will have if they're exposed to PFAS. Exposure to certain PFAS at certain levels, according to studies on laboratory animals and some evidence from human studies, may have adverse health effects. Long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, have been demonstrated in certain studies to:
- Cause developmental effects in infants
- Lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- Increase a woman’s blood pressure during pregnancy
- Lower infant birth weights
- Interfere with the body’s natural hormones
- Increase cholesterol levels
- Affect the immune system
- Increase the risk of cancer
Environmental Concerns of PFAS Exposure
According to studies, gardens that are watered with PFAS-contaminated water have greater PFAS levels in the soil. Although certain PFASs are taken by plants, they can be washed out of the soil with clean water. Others, such as PFOA and PFOS, cling to soil for longer but aren't easily absorbed by plants and can be washed away after harvest.
Here are some excellent ways you can reduce your risk of exposure to PFAS:
- Use a clean supply of water to water your plants and seedlings.
- Clean compost can be used to improve your soil. The incorporation of PFAS into plants can be prevented by increasing the organic content of your garden soil. Use any compost left over from last year's gardening in other sections of your yard.
- After you've harvested your vegetables, wash them in clean water. Before consuming root veggies, consider peeling and washing them.
What Can You Do About PFAS In the Water?
Unless you get your water from a communal water system, it's likely that it contains other contaminants including arsenic, uranium, radon, manganese, nitrate, and bacteria, which are either naturally occurring or come from neighboring land uses and pose a health concern. All private well users should have their water tested for these contaminants by an accredited laboratory, and make sure that the water treatment system they choose is effective at removing any contaminants present at high levels. Before selecting and installing a water treatment system, a routine water quality test should be performed to guarantee that the system will function properly.
We hope this article has been helpful in teaching you everything you need to know about PFAS in your water. We know that this topic can be somewhat unsettling, as this sort of problem can happen to any and everybody if proper measures are not taken. If you are looking to install a water purification system to address PFAS and other toxic minerals and organisms in your water, consider installing a residential UV water treatment system, a reverse osmosis system, or even a sediment filter system from Premier H20!