Do Berkey Filters Remove or Reduce PFCs/PFAS (PFOA and PFOS)?
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. 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.
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.
How Can PFAS be removed from your drinking water?
A couple ways 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 or reduce PFAS from your water.
PFAS can be filtered well using the reverse osmosis method. A high-pressured pump pushes water through a semipermeable membrane, leaving drinking water behind and taking out the contaminants. 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 Perfluorobutyra