These elevated levels have been detected in municipal water, well water, and surface water sources ranging from Snohomish, WA to Moscow, ID and everywhere in between. With most of the Pacific Northwest impacted, officials are scrambling to test water and evaluate treatment methods, while residents are left wondering what to expect and what they can do to access safe, high-quality drinking water.
What are PFAS?
It started in the early 1940s, when water and heat-resistant chemicals containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances were engineered to help create non-stick products (Teflon), fire retardants, and other common consumer goods. What wasn’t understood at the time, however, was that PFAS Teflon and other products using PFAS wouldn’t naturally decay in nature, or the human body.
Known as bioaccumulation, this chemical characteristic means any amount absorbed into our bodies – through eating or drinking – stays in our bodies. Since we have no way of removing or disposing of these chemicals, they’ve earned the ominous nickname, ‘forever chemicals.’ As a result, most PFAS have been phased out of use in this country, but they remain prevalent in the environment and often that includes our water supply.
Is My Water Contaminated?
Certain areas have a higher propensity for PFAS-contaminated water. For example if you live near an airport or a firefighter training facility where many of these chemicals have historically been used, there’s a good chance they’re still found in relatively high concentrations. Areas around manufacturing centers also commonly have elevated levels of PFAS, since they were used in the production of carpet, food packaging and production, and many other consumer goods.
PFAS and PFOA have even been found in areas removed from this kind of activity since they persist in the environment. Studies show that as much as 98% of the population register some level of PFAS in their bodies.
The best way to know if you have PFAS-contaminated water is to have your home’s water tested. With a free home water test from Culligan, you’ll get results back in as little as a few minutes, and your Pacific Northwest Culligan can review the results with you to help you understand what you’re dealing with, and how to treat it if necessary.
Remove and Prevent PFAS Water Contamination
There may not be any ways to prevent PFAS contamination in the environment, but you can make sure the water you’re drinking is PFAS free. If there is good news regarding PFAS water contamination, it’s that they can be treated and removed from water with the right filtration. For example, several methods, like carbon filtration, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis water treatment effectively remove PFAS from water.
Once again, your local Culligan can help you understand whether you have PFAS in your water, and if they’re at a level that you should consider treating them with a drinking water system or a whole-house filtration system. Contact us today to schedule your free home water test to turn on the safest, best tasting water right at home.
As far as water contaminants in theory, PFOA in water is a relatively newer concept than other issues, but is something to watch moving forward. PFOA, the most notable substance of the family, was found to be a part of the manufacturing process of Teflon. The EPA sued DuPont in 2005 for failing to report a health risk to both humans and the environment. The company paid a $10.25 million settlement.