PFAS in Drinking Water



According to a recent in-depth report in the Chicago Tribune, as many as 6 out of 10 residents of Illinois could be drinking water contaminated by PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals.” Testing has shown that these chemicals are present in water utilities serving over 8 million Illinois residents, especially in Chicago and its suburbs, as well as Evanston, Lake Forest, Waukegan, and more. Cities farther downstate, including Peoria and Rockford, also have been found to have PFAS present in their water supply.

No Current PFAS Regulations for Illinois Water Utilities 

Although PFAS have been detected in drinking water in the US since the early 2000s, there are no federal guidelines for the level of PFAS allowed in drinking water, despite studies proving the danger of these chemicals. In fact, the Chicago Tribune states that “two of the most studied PFAS are so toxic there is effectively no safe level of exposure” according to the EPA.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency only began testing water utilities in the state for PFAS in 2020, and still has not instituted regulations for the levels of PFAS allowed. At this point, Illinois has only issued state health advisories for PFAS, but these are not actually enforceable. Proposals for regulations that would be required and enforced are currently in the works.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are chemicals made of linked chains of carbon and fluorine. The bond between these chains doesn’t degrade easily so PFAS don’t break down, which is why they are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” PFAS have been widely used in consumer products for many years, and they end up in water sources through factory runoff or leaching out of a variety of products, from food packaging to cosmetics to rain jackets.

How Dangerous Are PFAS?

Consumption of PFAS in humans has been linked to many health issues, including high cholesterol, thyroid issues, liver and kidney damage, cancer and more. The CDC has stated that “nearly every American has PFAS in their bodies.”

According to Today, researchers from Mount Sinai have also recently found that prenatal exposure to PFAS disrupts the endocrine system and is causing “rising rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children.”

How Do I Know if PFAS Are in My Drinking Water?

Some cities and states have begun testing for PFAS to let consumers know if the chemicals are in their drinking water, but there are no national regulations requiring testing. According to USA TODAY, there is a national nonprofit, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which “maintains a map of all known locations where PFAS have been found in drinking water.” People can also contact their water utility or state environmental agency to ask if there has been testing performed on their water system to provide data on PFAS. Check out EWG's interactive map to see if PFAS is in your drinking water. 

What Is Being Done About PFAS?

The Biden administration has plans to seek public comments and potentially federally regulate PFAS in the future. In addition, “Congress set aside $10 billion last year for loans and grants to finance PFAS-related projects.” Communities in Illinois may be able to apply for funding through that program to help fix the PFAS contamination in their water utilities.

Which WAATR Products Remove PFAS?

Out of all our product offerings, only PureMax 4D is designed to remove PFAS from your drinking water because it uses activated charcoal and ion-exchange resin in addition to UV-C treatment. All other WAATR products use only UV-C treatment technology, which is very powerful in neutralizing bio-contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. 

What is the Major Difference Between PureMax 4D and Other Traditional Filtration Products on the Market?

PureMax 4D cartridges use ion-exchange resin and granular activated charcoal in the filter material, which are designed to capture a wide range of PFAS, unlike other filters.  Additionally, traditional water filters trap bio-contaminants (such as bacteria, viruses, and pathogens), they don’t destroy them. This means that all the bio-contaminants are still growing and multiplying on the filter surfaces.

The PureMax 4D water filter completely destroys these bio-contaminants before the water enters its filtration system, so nothing is growing or multiplying on the filter surfaces. This is ideal to prevent reserve contamination of water from filter cartridges.

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