PFOA, PFOS, PFAS
A Lot of Letters, Let's Talk Numbers
Cleaning products, leather, textiles, non-stick cookware, pesticides and more all contain a common factor: PFAS. A mathematician would stop here and explain how two numbers might have a common factor – and in the case of PFOA & PFOS – this means lots of numbers are involved: also known as C8, 6.5 million Americans are affected across 33 states, and at least 44 tons are released into the air and the Ohio River.
More recently, major companies have been phasing out the use of PFOAs. All companies concerned have indicated that they have met the EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program goals, which called for the substance to be phased out no later than 2015. That doesn’t mean that this harmful contaminant isn’t still present and causing problems.
The issue with PFOA, PFOS, and other poly/perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is that they are persistent, they do not break down in the environment, and they’re bio-accumulative, meaning they literally accumulate faster than they break down. Bad for the environment, bad for humans – get the picture?
Products manufactured years ago still expose people to these contaminants. This includes products that have been discarded that were possibly even exposed to a water supply.
Harvard researchers found detectable levels of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 194 US water supplies. They found that exposure to trace amounts of these chemicals impact the immune system, and significant exposure has even been linked to possible birth defects, cancer, and heart disease.
Perfluoroalykyl Substances – Say What?
Let’s back it up a little. Perfluoroctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are man-made chemicals that were widely used in many products, including non-stick cookware, until the 2000s. “For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as PFAS, were allowed to be used and released to the environment, and we now have to face the severe consequences,” said Xindi Hu, the lead Harvard researcher that found that at least 6.5 million Americans were receiving water that exceeded federally recommended levels.
The above mentioned 2016 Harvard study also found unsafe levels of PFAS in 33 states.
The EPA has established a Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 parts-per-trillion for PFAS. That’s a number that may not make a lot of sense to the average person, but what’s important to note is that LHA’s are NOT drinking water standards. According to the EPA, “Unlike drinking water standards, health advisories are not regulations, are not legally enforceable, and are subject to change as new information becomes available. However, they reflect our assessment of the current peer-reviewed science on the health effects for particular contaminants, and they provide important uniform technical guidance to state, local and tribal governments and drinking water system operators so that they can determine if concentrations of chemicals in tap water from public utilities are safe for drinking and other use.”
Does This Mean All Water Is Contaminated?
Nearly all Americans have had some level of exposure to PFAS. The five states with the highest frequency of detection were California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. Contamination is highest in the mid-Ohio River Valley.
Click here to see the EPA Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS.
First Filter To Remove PFAS’s From Drinking Water
Aquasana’s drinking water filters, both countertop and under-sink, were the first filtration systems to earn certification to a new protocol developed by NSF International – P473. The protocol tests and certifies a water treatment device’s ability to reduce PFOA and PFOS to below the health advisory levels set by the EPA.
Former CEO of Aquasana, Todd Bartee, is an environmental engineer with expertise in water and waste-water treatment. Here’s what he has to say about accessing clean PFOA-free water:
“The mission should be to deliver the healthiest water possible, and that means working with NSF International to stay ahead of the increasing types of contaminants affecting our nation’s water supply,” says Bartee. “Aquasana is leading the charge as the first to offer a premium product that is NSF certified to protect against PFOA contamination.”
“Our new protocol… will help consumers choose a water treatment device that fits their needs and be confident it can reduce these specific contaminants as the manufacturer claims,” added Tina Yerkes, general manager of filtration programs at NSF International.
See our recommended drinking water filters:
AND NOW, A SOLUTION FOR THE WHOLE HOME
Our biggest advancement yet, the OptimH2O Whole House Filter, is a first-of-its-kind system that is IAPMO tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard P473 to reduce perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), as well as NSF/ANSI Standard 53 to reduce both soluble and particulate forms of lead and cysts. Additionally, it also reduces 90% of chlorine and chloramines, along with additional contaminants.