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Removing PFAS (Forever Chemicals) from Water

by Andrew Steer on June 18, 2024

How to Remove Forever Chemicals (PFAS) from your Drinking Water


PFAS are a Very Serious Health Problem

Experts are now saying Australians must use water filters after drinking water in many parts of the country was found to contain dangerous cancer-causing forever chemicals.
The contaminants - perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - have been found in tap water in every state and territory, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported recently.
Australian water contains contaminants that US authorities warn are likely to be carcinogenic, with "no safe level of exposure".
PFAS have now been linked to kidney and liver disease, dysregulation of the thyroid and insulin, reproductive problems and developmental problems in children as well as cancer.
There is a call for widespread testing of Australia's drinking water after the US Environmental Protection Agency's dramatic policy shift in April this year when It found there was no safe level of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water and they were likely to cause cancer.
They are forever chemicals because in effect they do not break down and actually accumulate in the human body.

This year the US government slashed its maximum limits of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water to just 4 parts per trillion.

Australia’s limits are set at an unbelievable 560 parts per trillion for PFOA and 70 parts per trillion for PFOS.



Where are PFAS found ?

  • Nonstick cookware
  • Fire fighting foams
  • Household cleaners
  • Stain-resistant carpets
  • Hairsprays and other cosmetic items
  • Water resistant clothing
  • Fast food packaging

PFAS, including PFOA, have all been linked to a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, even low doses of these PFAS have been linked with the following health conditions

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Birth defects
  • Liver damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer

Getting PFAS Out Of Our Water

There are currently several ways to remove PFAS from drinking water, including treatment with activated carbon, ion exchange resins, or high-pressure membranes. Filtering water through tanks containing granular activated carbon (GAC) is the most common practice.

Solution Summary

The best methods to remove up to 99.99% of PFAS from water include 

    1. Activated Carbon filters - using adsorbtion to trap PFAS
    2. Ion Exchange filters - exchanging PFAS ions for harmless ones 
    3. Reverse Osmosis systems - using a semi-permeable membrane
      Methods that are NOT effective ways to remove PFAS include
      1. Boiling water
      2. KDF filters
      3. Activated Alumina media 
      4. Ceramic filtration


      Going Beyond PFAS Removal to Total Destruction

      The most recent research is working on a groundbreaking innovation powered by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO), which breaks the strong carbon-fluorine bonds within PFAS molecules and decomposes the material into a non-toxic waste stream.

      Water above a temperature of 705°F and pressure of 221.1 bar is considered “supercritical,” a special state that accelerates certain chemical oxidation processes. For example, organic compounds are usually insoluble in liquid water but become highly soluble in supercritical water. And when an oxidizing agent is present, supercritical water dissolves and oxidizes various hazardous organic pollutants.

      The potential of the technology obliterates PFAS in contaminated water to undetectable levels in seconds, leaving only inert salts and PFAS-free water behind.