EPA’s New PFAS Rule Lacks Details About Drinking Water
If there’s anything we learned from the Dark Waters movie, it’s that PFAS chemicals can be toxic to our health. And usually, there’s an increased risk for people who live or work close to military bases, industrial and manufacturing sites, airports, and other areas where PFAS chemicals are frequently used.
Since the movie’s release, many American companies have started phasing out PFAS for other ‘less risky’ compounds. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a health advisory threshold for PFAS in drinking water. But despite these response actions, PFAS contamination is still prevalent in America’s tap water. How is this even possible?
Well, according to some studies, the ‘safer’ PFAS replacements adopted by some companies could also pose serious risks. Plus, the EPA’s PFAS guidelines are not a legal standard and are, therefore, not enforceable. And of course, it could also be a fusion of both.
But all thing’s considered, it’s surprising that after all these years, the EPA still has not taken concrete steps to protect the nation’s drinking water from PFAS chemicals – even in its proposed final PFAS action plan. To better understand what’s going on, let’s zero in on PFAS pollution in America’s water supply and how the EPA’s flawed PFAS rule might fail to protect the public from this harmful contaminant.
First off, what are PFAS chemicals?
We’ve mentioned the acronym PFAS quite a few times in the intro, but perhaps you have no idea what it stands for. That’s understandable. PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of about 5,000 human-made chemical compounds. These chemicals are also given the nickname “forever chemicals” because they have a unique chemical property that makes them resistant to breaking down. As a result, they can remain in the environment for decades or even centuries.
PFAS chemicals, including PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other substances, are associated with the production of Teflon, Scotch-Guard, stain-repellent products, non-stick products, and more. Some are used to manufacture a variety of consumer products, like stain-proof rugs, fast-food wrappers, paper food packaging (e.g., popcorn bags and pizza boxes), non-stick cookware, some types of dental floss, etc.
A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that there are also high concentrations of PFAS in water – even much more than the EPA previously reported. Scientists from the EWG believe that some PFAS chemicals are likely present in all the major water supplies in the U.S. Even worse, the tests also found PFAS chemicals that are not commonly tested for in drinking water in the country.
Why is chemical pollution a nationwide problem in the United States?
America has a history of allowing certain products and chemicals on the market without doing any prior research to determine the possible effects on the environment and public health. Beyond that, no regulation requires chemical manufacturers to thoroughly study how their products may impact the environment and human health before making them available for public use. These products may include a host of chemicals used in things like pesticides, solvents, household cleaning products, suppressants, and more.
Usually, a chemical manufacturing company is served a lawsuit years after people have become seriously ill after using or being exposed to their compounds. In essence, there’s no barrier to entry when introducing a new chemical to the market. Unlike some European countries, for example, the U.S. does not follow a precautionary principle that requires them to check to ensure the safety of a product before it enters the market. Hopefully, that will change with EPA’s new PFAS action plan.
How’s our drinking water affected?
Industrial and chemical pollution are two of the most threatening types of pollution affecting America’s drinking water. Most industrial pollutants often go undetected because we cannot see, taste, or smell them. Worse, some of them are so small that traditional municipal water treatment systems cannot remove them.
Scientists believe that PFAS contamination is one of the biggest threats to drinking water in the U.S. PFAS chemicals have been detected in 110 million Americans’ tap water and may lead to various adverse health effects.
How does PFAS exposure affect public health?
For years, PFAS chemicals have been used to manufacture many consumer products, so it’s almost impossible to avoid them. Scientists also found that we can inhale PFAS-contaminated air or dust, while other studies showed that a small amount of PFAS could be absorbed through the skin.
Exposure to some PFAS chemicals can result in various adverse health effects, especially in young children and pregnant women. PFAS may cause problems like thyroid disease, damage to the liver and kidneys, elevated cholesterol, and effects on fertility and low birth weight.
Research also suggests that exposure to PFAS chemicals might suppress the immune systems of young children, possibly making vaccines less effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry also lists other toxic health effects, such as increasing your risk of certain cancers and interfering with your hormones.
Scientists aren’t entirely sure about the health effects of new PFAS compounds that are used to replace PFOS and PFAS, and the effects of low-level exposure. However, they’ve found that PFAS chemicals affect every major organ in the body.
Why EPA’s new PFAS rule is flawed and could endanger public health and safety
In early 2020, the EPA announced it would regulate PFAS chemicals that have been leaching into the water supply in cities across America. In June, the agency introduced a new rule to address PFAS contamination. However, the proposed final action plan does not ban the production and distribution of PFAS chemicals. It only provides a brief check for chemical manufacturers. It doesn’t even acknowledge drinking water as a potential medium of exposure, nor does it include a plan to address PFAS chemicals in the environment.
So, under this proposed PFAS plan, PFAS will continue to be manufactured and distributed in the United States. And without clear protocols on drinking water limits and how to remove PFAS chemicals from tap water, many families across America will continue to be exposed to these toxic chemicals every time they turn on their faucets. This has to change.
Are there PFAS chemicals in my drinking water?
Before you begin your quest for the best PFAS-removal solution available, it’s best to find out if your drinking water actually contains PFAS. Here are several ways to do it:
- Check EWG’s Tap Water Database. The EWG’s Tap Water Database provides useful information about a particular city or state based on the ZIP code you enter. It displays the water utility’s details, such as its location, the estimated number of people served, the period for which the data is available, and the source (whether groundwater or surface water). The tool will also tell you the total number of contaminants detected in the water supply and how many of them exceed EWG health guidelines. So, punch in your city or ZIP code and see if there are any PFAS contaminants reported in your water supply.
- Check your water quality report. You can contact your local water provider and request a copy of their latest water quality report. After receiving it, scan through it to see if there have been any recent reports of PFAS contamination in the water supply in your area.
- Use a home water testing kit. The most affordable and convenient way to check your drinking water for PFAS is to test it with a home water testing kit that tests for PFAS. You can purchase one of these kits from Springwell or any other online or local merchant. Most PFAS test kits take less than 10 minutes to determine whether your water is contaminated with PFAS chemicals.
- Send a water sample from your home to a private laboratory in your area. For more accurate results, you can send a water sample from your tap to a local laboratory for rigorous testing. This method can be a bit costly and time-consuming, but it will tell you if your water is tainted with PFAS and perhaps what specific PFAS are present.
How do I filter PFAS from my drinking water?
The federal government is yet to agree on a safe level for PFAS in drinking water (although some states have established their standards and screen levels). That means you have to take matters into your own hands to protect yourself and your family from these deadly chemicals. Thankfully, Springwell is here to help you achieve that and more.
After checking your water for PFAS, the next step is to purchase and install a home water filtration system. Even if your water doesn’t contain PFAS, a system like this will help to prevent possible future PFAS contamination.
Now, the two best types of filtration systems to remove PFAS from drinking water are reverse osmosis (RO) filters and activated carbon filters. RO filters work by forcing water through a membrane that traps contaminants. These filters are considered more effective than activated carbon filters as their filter membrane allows them to filter higher levels of more contaminants, including PFAS, arsenic, lead, nitrates, and many more. Typically, RO systems consist of a sediment filter, carbon filters, and a RO membrane.
The Springwell SWRO under-counter reverse osmosis filters are among the best reverse osmosis systems to combat PFAS. They combine reverse osmosis and carbon filtration in their 4-stage filtration process to remove heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and fluoride, PFAS, and many other contaminants often found in drinking water. The SWRO filters are point-of-use systems, meaning they filter water at specific points in your home. Plus, they also fit neatly under almost any size kitchen sink and produce up to 75 gallons of treated, PFAS-free water per day.
The second-best option is an activated carbon filter. Like RO filters, activated carbon filters reduce the amounts of PFAS and many other contaminants in drinking water. The Springwell CF1 whole-house filtration system, in particular, is a top-tier activated carbon filter that can significantly reduce harmful pollutants in water, such as chlorine, chloramine, PFOA, PFOS, pesticides, herbicides, haloacetic acids, and many more.
The CF1 is a point-of-entry system, so it filters all the water entering your house. It uses Springwell’s ActivFlo technology and the highest-quality coconut shell carbon and filtration media to filter water through four critical stages, removing up to 99% of contaminants during the entire filtration process. It achieves this by allowing enough contact time between each step of the filtration process and the specific contaminants. That way, you and your family can enjoy healthier and safer drinking water with a system that gives you multiple lines of defense against even the most dangerous pollutants.
Why choose Springwell?
Springwell believes that every family deserves the cleanest, highest-quality drinking water possible. That’s why, for over 20 years, we strive to manufacture the most innovative, reliable, and robust filtration systems at the most affordable prices. Our systems are easy to install and set up. Plus, they require little or no maintenance to upkeep their remarkable performance. Each system is covered with a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty against defects and a six-month money-back guarantee. You also get free shipping with FedEx’s fast and reliable service. Best of all, you can save up to 50 percent when you purchase your brand-new system directly from our factory. Contact us today to learn more about our products and how we can help you remove PFAS and other toxic contaminants from your drinking water.
There’s no secret that PFAS are toxic to human health, as well as the environment. They are one of the most dangerous chemicals affecting drinking water, mainly because they are linked to cancer and other severe health conditions, and can remain in the environment for up to centuries before they break down (if that even happens). Considering the harmful nature of these chemicals, we can’t understand why the EPA has not taken serious action to limit exposure to the chemicals in drinking water. Until some serious action is taken, it’s up to you install a top-quality water filtration system from Springwell to ensure that your water is always PFAS- and contaminant-free, and your loved ones are safe and healthy.