Many of the public drinking water supplies in the United States are generally safe. However, some water supplies, including private wells, may contain traces of toxins known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. While completely avoiding these pollutants may be difficult, some filtration systems can help to minimize the amount of PFAs found in your drinking water.
Read on to learn more about PFAS.
Basics of PFAS
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, collectively known as PFAS, are a group of artificial chemicals with many industrial uses including in cosmetics, food packaging, non-stick cookware, cleaning products, paints, and in firefighting foam, among other uses.
While other types of PFAS can contaminate water, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl are the most widely studied because these chemicals are more common in consumer items.
Areas close to industrial and manufacturing sites are prone to PFAS contamination. These chemicals find their way into the ground, especially during the rainy season, and contaminate groundwater.
Many companies no longer use PFAS in their manufacturing processes. However, once these substances migrate down to the groundwater, they remain in the water for a long time. As such, exposure to PFAs is possible long after manufacturing plants stop using these substances.
Health Effects of PFAS
Due to the widespread use of PFAS in consumer products, many people already have low levels of these chemicals in their body. Because PFAS are highly persistent, the body takes a long time to eradicate these substances from your bloodstream.
However, experts have associated continued exposure and, subsequently, high amounts of PFAS in the blood with an increased risk of cancer, respiratory problems, low birth rate, heart disease, and early menopause, among other health complications.
Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAs
The Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is a health advisory that sets the acceptable amount of PFAS in water sources. Experts consider water that contains an amount of PFAS beyond the acceptable as a health hazard.
The National Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory requiring that the maximum contaminant level for PFAS be 70 parts per trillion.
The Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) added three more types of PFAS to the list as part of the maximum contaminant target. These three additions include perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA).
The 70 parts per trillion target can be for any of the five PFAS when tested individually or for the sum of all the five contaminants when tested together.
The DPH recommends that when test results show amounts of PFAS lower than the set maximum contaminant level of 70 parts per trillion, those drinking the water should still take steps to avoid an chemical accumulation in the body.
Minimization of PFAS in Water
Some certified filtration systems may help to reduce the amount of PFAS found in your drinking water.
To be effective, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recommends that a system that claims to reduce PFAS should minimize these substances below the 70 parts per trillion target.
The NSF is a public health and safety organization that certifies drinking water filtration systems based on a variety of standards. If you are unsure about the most appropriate water filtration system for your family, ask your environmental testing specialist for recommendations.
In most of Connecticut, drinking water is generally safe. However, if you are worried, especially about the quality of your private well water, ask a specialist to test your water for potential contaminants and find ways, such as using water filters, to minimize the contaminants in your drinking water.
At Hygenix Inc., we use state-of-the-art technology to test groundwater for dangerous substances. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our consultants.