PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. Some of the more common commercial applications have been for products like Teflon, stain & water–resistant materials, paints, polishes, fire fighting foams (a major source of ground water pollution near airports, military bases and fire fighting training centers). These chemicals are being detected at dangerous levels in drinking water supplies around the country. (For removal of PFAS in water, see section below)
PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals do not break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. As a result, these chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States, but are still made in other countries and may be contained in products imported into the U.S.
There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans. If humans or animals ingest it (by eating or drinking food or water), they are absorbed and can accumulate in the body. PFAS stay in the human body for long periods of time. As a result, as people get exposed from different sources over time, the level in their bodies may increase to the point where they suffer from adverse health effects.
Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animal studies. The most consistent findings from human epidemiology studies are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to infant birth weights and:
Note: see https://www.epa.gov/pfas for more detailed information.
REMOVAL OF PFAS
Activated Carbon Adsorption
There are technologies effective in removing PFAS from drinking water, especially Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which are the most studied of these chemicals. The most effective technologies include Ion exchange, activated carbon adsorption and reverse osmosis. For more information on removal, see https://h2ocare.com/what-are-pfas/.
Reverse Osmosis, Point of Use System
This highly effective membrane based technology can be installed to feed a point-of-use such as a separate faucet at a kitchen sink. Alternately, a system could be installed in the basement underneath the kitchen sink and run a line up the the separate faucet. See http://reverse-osmosis-water-purification. While whole house reverse osmosis systems are an option, they are very expensive and not practical for most situations.
To see the Devens town notice related to PFAS, click on link at April 18, 2019 Devens Notice.