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: PFOA. A mathematician would stop here and explain how two numbers might have a common factor – and in the case of PFOA & PFOS – lots of numbers are involved: also known as C8, 6.5 million Americans affected, 33 states, and at least 44 tons released into the air and the Ohio River.
Major companies have been phasing out the use of PFOA. All companies 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 can’t still cause 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. Period. Not biodegradable. 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. Some claim that the chemical was released directly into the water supply by companies trying to hide the effects.
Harvard researchers found detectable levels of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances in 194 US water supplies. These researchers went above and beyond the Legally Blonde approach but held on to the Elle Woods compassion for finding out how people are affected. Exposure to trace amounts of these chemicals impact the immune system. 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 2000’s. “For many years, chemicals with unknown toxicities, such as PFAS’s, 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 PFASs in 33 states.
The EPA has established a Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion for PFAS’s. 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 counter-top and under-sink, are said to have the first filtration systems to earn certification to a new protocol developed by NSF International – P473. The protocol is said to verify a water treatment device’s ability to reduce PFOA and PFOS to below the health advisory levels set by the EPA.
Todd Bartee, although not a professional mathematician, is an Environmental Engineer with expertise in water and waste-water treatment – and he can discuss all the numbers necessary to explain water filtration and water contaminants.
Todd said, “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. 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.
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