Limits proposed for harmful ‘forever chemicals’
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are more commonly known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.” These chemicals have been manufactured since the 1940s and can be found in a wide variety of common household items. They can also be found in your drinking water. Last Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency finally proposed the first federal limits on these chemicals that may cause a wide range of health issues.
What are ‘forever chemicals’?
PFAS are used to make fluoropolymer coatings. These coatings simplify life because they make items resistant to stains. You can find them on cooking surfaces, food packaging, clothing, furniture and more. You can even find them on personal care items, such as dental floss and makeup.
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they have strong carbon-fluorine bonds and don’t break down in the environment. They can travel through soils and permanently contaminate water sources. These undesirable chemicals can build up in fish, wildlife and humans.
What are the health effects of PFAS?
Scientists are still learning how damaging PFAS can be. Current research suggests that high levels of certain PFAS may lead to increased cholesterol levels, increased risk of high blood pressure, decreased vaccine response in children, a decrease in infant birth weight, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer and other issues.
How do PFAS get in your body?
The good news is “forever chemicals” do not enter your body through your skin. This means showering, bathing and cleaning are not high-risk activities. Exposure to PFAS occurs primarily through ingesting or breathing the harmful chemicals into your body.
Removing PFAS from drinking water is essential because it is how most people are exposed. However, exposure can also happen by eating contaminated foods (including breast milk) or breathing in dust.
Can you get rid of ‘forever chemicals’ once they’re in the body?
Most PFAS are excreted slowly through urine. These chemicals also leave the body through menstrual blood and breast milk. Sweating, however, does not seem to affect the level of chemicals in your body. Current estimates conclude it can take anywhere from two to four years to reduce the level of PFAS in your system by half.
How do you remove PFAS from your drinking water?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most effective way to remove “forever chemicals” from drinking water is by filtering the water via activated carbon, ion exchange or high-pressure membranes. At the homeowner level, this most often means purchasing a water filter pitcher with granular activated carbon or a reverse osmosis system.
Best products to remove ‘forever chemicals’ from your drinking water
This water filtration system has six stages of filtration that include reverse osmosis and granular activated carbon to remove PFAS. The last stage of this system restores the natural alkalinity and mineral balance of water to give it a more pleasant taste.
The Express Water reverse osmosis system is designed to be installed by the homeowner. It is an under-the-sink reverse osmosis system that can provide up to 50 gallons of filtered water every day.
This four-stage filtration system begins by removing larger sediment from your water before it travels through ultra-fine filters and granular activated carbon to remove up to 99% of contaminants.
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If you aren’t interested in installing an under-the-sink water filtration system, you can use Aquagear’s water filter pitcher to clean your water 10 cups at a time. The filter removes harmful PFAS while retaining beneficial minerals.
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LifeStraw is the Climate Neutral Certified brand that makes a portable filtration system that lets you drink safely from most natural water sources. This at-home offering reduces “forever chemicals,” as well as chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, lead and mercury.
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