What are PFCs and PFAS?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), formerly known as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), are toxic, man-made chemical compounds that companies started using in the 1940s to make fluoropolymer coatings. These coatings are made to withstand substances like oil, water, heat, grease and stains for products like non-stick cooking surfaces, fabrics, cleaning products and foam used to fight fires.

Types of PFASs include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOAs and PFOS have been phased out by companies over the years due to their harmful effects on humans, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the EPA announced it would regulate the chemicals in drinking water.

How do they get into drinking water?

While many companies aren't using PFOA and PFOS anymore, the chemicals can linger for years. That’s why PFASs are considered persistent industrial chemicals, also known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These chemicals don’t break down in the environment and can get into the soil and drinking water systems along with streams, rivers and lakes, so most people have detectable levels of it, either through their water or food. Areas with industrial plants or firefighter facilities tend to have the highest amounts of the chemicals.

What are the dangers of PFAS in the water supply?

Unfortunately, there is limited research on PFASs, but there are efforts to reverse that. From a few studies, researchers have found that PFAS can increase cholesterol, restrict natural hormones and impact immune systems. It can also cause certain kinds of cancer.

Currently, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has deemed it a possible carcinogenic. That is based on evidence of the chemicals causing kidney and testicular cancer.

PFOA in water

How do you know if you have PFAS in your water?

To determine if you have PFAS in your water, contact your local water provider online or search the Environmental Working Group (EWG) interactive PFAS contamination map. We also have a comprehensive tap water database with detailed information on your local water quality.

How Can PFAS be removed from your drinking water?

The best way to remove these chemicals from your water is by using one of three home water filter methods. Berkey Filters use two of these methods, activated carbon and ion exchange, to remove PFAS from your water.

Reverse Osmosis

PFAS can be filtered well using the reverse osmosis method. A high-pressured pump pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane, leaving pure water behind and taking out the chemicals and bacteria. However, it also takes out the minerals, some of which you want to get rid of, but not all because it gets rid of essential minerals your body needs. Reverse osmosis is also expensive and much of the water used in the process is wasted, wasting water and using more energy than other methods.

Activated Carbon

Water filters with activated carbon adsorb organic compounds and chemicals and remove odors and taste from water. They are effective on their own and remove PFOA and PFOS well, but have trouble with Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) and Perfluorobutyrate (PFBA). Berkey Filters incorporates this method into the filtration process with Black Berkey elements.

Ion Exchange

In this method, positive and negative ions attract opposite charged heavy metals to a filtration media. They hold on to the harmful heavy metals so that they don’t go through the water system, leaving water without contaminants. This process tends to be more expensive than others, but it is effective.

Lady filling berkey with water

The Berkey Difference

Our Berkey Filters uses a combination of three different processes to filter water, including ion exchange and activated carbon filters, which are used to filter PFAS out of drinking water. Our purification process starts off with our Black Berkey Filters, which are made up of 6 different media types and have minuscule pores, making it difficult for contaminants to get through. On top of this, the filters use adsorption to keep more contaminants out. Ion exchange attracts heavy metals to the media, keeping even more contaminants out. Then, the gravity flow feature of our filter system has this process move slowly enough that contaminants have an even harder time to get through, but fast enough to help you get the filtered water you need.

According to tests done by EPA-accredited labs, Berkey Filters remove over 99.9% of PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, from the water along with other types of PFAS. That’s why each Berkey Water Filtration System gives you the reassurance that your water is free of contaminants. Our Black Berkey Filters go above and beyond EPA and ANSI/NSF (Std. 53) standards and we are the only certifiable gravity flow water purification system out there.

Does Berkey Remove
Chromium 6?

While most water filters don’t remove chromium-6, the good news is Berkey filters remove >99.8% of Chromium-6.

Does Berkey Remove Minerals?

Learn more about beneficial minerals in your water.

Do Berkey Filters Change Your pH Level

Depending on your water, Berkey may change the pH level