Jul 01, 2019

Technical Resource

New technologies combat emerging contaminants in drinking water

New technologies combat emerging contaminants in drinking water

To the water treatment professional, it seems that every second there is another news report or article about per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), new rules and laws being discussed, and state and federal representatives, along with the U.S. EPA in Washington, fighting over plans or laying blame on the other about what they are or are not doing. Imagine the confusion and uncertainty this is creating for the consumer. Let us work to be the solution and provide piece-of-mind to the consumer.

Toxic Chemicals

PFAS is a manufactured chemical that is part of a larger group of chemicals called perfluoroalkyls. These are a large family of common synthetic chemicals used in the manufacturing processes of consumer goods and industrial products such as non-stick cookware, food packaging, protective coatings, clothing, adhesives and sealants, and firefighting foam suppressants. This chemical can migrate to groundwater and form plumes. PFAS has become an emerging contaminant in water supplies due to its persistence in the environment. 

PFAS pollution has hit mainstream news in a lengthy list of states, including Vermont, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Connecticut, California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin and more. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by government entities for studying and testing water supplies contaminated by PFOA and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). 

Extensive water testing takes time, and consumers do not have time or do not know where to turn for answers when dealing with PFAS-contaminated water. Water treatment professionals must have solutions to offer consumers and it is imperative to offer a water treatment system that is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the removal of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PFOS. Consumers need a filtration system that conserves their water while offering piece-of-mind by removing PFOA or PFOS. The contaminants must be removed from the water at the point in which it enters the home. 

PFOA’s are resistant to direct oxidation and do not naturally break down in the environment or the human body. Studies suggest that exposure to the chemicals may lead to cancer. According to EPA, exposure to the chemical has been linked to reproductive health issues, cancer, cardiovascular concerns, immunity deficiencies, thyroid issues, and neuroendocrine issues that affect the liver and kidneys. One would think avoiding the use of consumer products that contain PFOA would be appropriate. However, this is a toxic chemical that comes from stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, nonstick cookware, food packaging, adhesives, cosmetics, leather and even film inside microwave popcorn bags; it is not an easy chemical to avoid contact with. 

Consumers can only determine if PFAS has contaminated their water source a certified laboratory test report. When mainstream news digs deep into a PFOA contamination issue in water wells, consumers need to know where and whom to contact. As a local water treatment professional, it is your duty to be familiar with testing processes in your market, and associate their water needs with an NSF/ANSI Standard 53-certified filtration system to be installed in the home. 

The U.S. EPA health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS is 70 ppt.
The U.S. EPA health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS is 70 ppt.

Finding Solutions 

The current health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS established by EPA is at 70 ppt. To put this into perspective, that would be like 70 grains of sand in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Methods for removing PFOA and PFOS today include granular activated carbon (GAC), reverse osmosis (RO) and specific anion exchange resin. RO systems commonly are used for a quick removal capability at one location, like the kitchen faucet. That is ideal for the kitchen faucet; however, consider the children in the bathtub that are drinking the bath water after being told not to. Most consumers cannot use a whole house RO system that typically is used in a commercial application. Anion exchange resin has been tested by individual manufacturers to remove the chemicals, but there currently is no NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for PFOA and PFOS removal using this method. The most popular method for removing PFAS today is activated carbon. 

An effective and efficient water treatment system to install is the Pioneer filtration technology. The system is an NSF/ANSI Standard 53-certified filtration system for PFOA, PFOS and lead removal. The water filtration system can benefit consumers that require less space. The filtration system offers a whole house filter technology designed to last the average consumer one year of usage, with peak service flow rates up to 8 gpm. This system offers service flow rates to remove PFOA and PFOS for the entire home, and consumers can rely on safe water throughout their home or business.

These are different times, and being the professional solution provider to the consumer will continue to solidify your company’s future as a technical resource to solve the next water issue when that eventually rears its head.

About the author

Daniel W. Bauer is the sales and marketing manger for Enpress LLC. Bauer can be reached at [email protected]