The typical water treatment solutions only get you halfway there. But there's another option available.
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I heard a story of an entire cattle ranch being shut down due to PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) constituents in the meat products. My first thought was, “Wow, I’m glad that’s far away and will never happen in my community.” But then it did.
As I continued to dig deeper, I realized that PFAS is everywhere, and the toxicity levels are so high that if you test for it, you pretty much find an exceedance of the acceptable level. Worse, it’s not tested for regularly because the processes of sampling and analysis are laborious and specialized from all other kinds of contaminant testing. This means that unless there is a specific reason to test for it, the soil, air, and water won’t be tested. PFAS as a group of chemicals are not tested for by the average curious layman.
The EPA only considers PFOA and PFOS hazardous, so most manufacturers are not testing for all other kinds of PFAS either, which are suspected to be harmful to human health as well. The good news is that PFOA and PFOS are banned in most industries, so the source of these most hazardous forms is not continuing to be spread in the environment. The bad news is that we don’t know exactly how bad it is because we, as a community, haven’t done systematic widespread testing to know exactly where it is or where it’s coming from.
If PFAS contamination is coming from fertilizer, it’s going into the groundwater. If it’s in the groundwater, it’s likely migrated into the municipal water supply system in surrounding areas. And unless the water treatment plant is using reverse osmosis (RO) technology, it’s going into my tap water.
So, I should buy a drinking water filter… right?
I can do better. How about a whole-house water filter? That’ll get me halfway there, and that’s better than nothing at all. Let me explain.
Typical filters you buy at the store are gravity fed carbon-activated filters. They remove some organic constituents and chlorine, but not all PFAS will be removed. Long-chain (larger molecule) PFAS will stick to the filter grains, but smaller short-chain PFAS will pass through. It is more reliable to use reverse osmosis (RO) technology, which was previously only available for commercial and industrial uses.
The best option is to install a home RO system.
Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems require their own electrical source. In most modern homes the under-sink systems can plug directly into the same outlet as the disposal. There are whole house systems, countertop, under-sink RO systems available. These RO options can remove all long-chain and short-chain PFAS while re-mineralizing the water with the things you want to keep in your drinking water. For a fair price, you’ll remove all the PFAS from your home, but you have to remember to change the membranes out regularly. As a side note, they’re quite elegant as well. Learn more here.
One more note to the hardworking cattle ranchers: If you’re wanting to know more about removing PFAS in-situ (“in place” or in the ground), you can use injection fluids to treat the groundwater system. The product is called Plume Stop and it’s made of water with colloidal activated carbon. You inject it into a well (aquifer) and it acts as a “Plume Shield.”
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Waterdrop's Reverse Osmosis water treatment to remove PFAS constituents is now available to anyone with a kitchen sink.
Reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems require electricity, and that's why previously they haven't been widely available for home use. Now they are, and they are quite elegant as well. Here's how under sink RO filters work.
These small RO systems plug in to the same outlet as your disposal.