PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are thousands of chemicals belonging to a single chemical class. PFAS contaminants are found in drinking water as a result of industrial releases and the use of firefighting foam. However, PFAS may also be used in a wide range of products, from food packaging to stain-resistant furniture, and our exposure comes from multiple sources and routes. PFAS does not break down in the environment and moves through soil to drinking water, which is why many scientists refer to them as “forever chemicals.”
Everyday products may be made with PFAS compounds, such as:
• Clothing like raincoats, yoga pants, shoes and accessories
• Paper packaging, including microwave popcorn bags and takeout packaging
• Stain-resistant carpets, rugs and furniture
• Non-stick cookware
• Firefighting foams and ski wax
Exposure to PFAS is virtually everywhere, from food, air and water, resulting from manufacturing releases and use of PFAS-containing products. Fortunately, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been taking active steps to update drinking water health advisories to replace those issued in 2016. The updated advisories indicate that some adverse health effects occur with concentrations of PFAS in water near zero and below the EPA’s ability to detect. Essentially, the lower the level of PFAS chemicals, the lower the risk to public health.
In addition, EPA is encouraging states, drinking water utilities, and community leaders that find PFAS in their drinking water to inform residents, undertake additional monitoring to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination, and examine steps to reduce exposure. Individuals concerned about levels of PFAS in their drinking water should consider actions that may reduce exposure, including installing a home or point-of-use filter.
Under the State of Colorado’s guidance, over 100 communities are retesting drinking water to create dilution or treatment plans if PFAS levels are high. The EPA’s drinking water guidance for PFAS was formerly no more than 70 parts per trillion. However, in June 2022, the EPA’s guidance for two forms of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, was cut to 0.004 parts per trillion and 0.02 parts per trillion, respectively.
While the EPA has only proposed guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water, states across the country are implementing enforceable drinking water standards and pursuing litigation against manufacturers of PFAS chemicals for contaminating water supplies and other natural resources.
With more data being shared with government entities about PFAS contamination and states adopting more policies to protect their residents, restrictions will get more rigorous to help eliminate PFAS chemicals. Local governments, state governments and businesses need to work together to help protect those in their communities by taking proper action now.
RK Water has the knowledge and expertise to guide your business through treatment selection, system sizing and ongoing operation. As water treatments experts, RK Water will:
• Perform initial PFAS sampling and testing through DOD certified laboratories
• Evaluate the characteristics of the PFAS requiring treatment
• Take into account site-specific conditions, sustainability of the treatment methods, and cost-effectiveness of viable treatment options
• Perform CAPEX vs. OPEX evaluation of competing treatment options
• Design and install temporary or long-term equipment, including treatment media
• Operate and maintain equipment and treatment systems, including media changeouts
• Compliance testing and reporting
• Manage disposal of media
The result is the reliable treatment of PFAS contamination to desired treatment goals. RK Water has you covered with in-house technical expertise. As RK Water is not committed to one proprietary product line, you are ensured that you will receive the best treatment options available in the market and client-focused attention throughout the process.
Learn more about RK Water’s PFAS treatment services.
Written by Ileana Morales
EPA Announces New Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS Chemicals, $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding to Strengthen Health Protections, accessed July 29, 2022, Environmental Protection Agency
Get the Facts: PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), accessed July 29, 2022, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
South Adams County water district is buying Denver’s water to dilute “forever chemicals,” accessed July 29, 2022, The Colorado Sun