Removing Some Highly Fluorinated Chemicals from Water is Possible but Pricey

Long-chain poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), such as PFOA and PFOS, are incredibly persistent both inside the body and within the environment, travelling long distances throughout the globe and contaminating water in heavily populated and remote areas alike. This is of concern given the negative health implications associated with these chemicals, such as cancer, harm to the developing fetus, and immune effects. Used in a wide range of products from food packaging to firefighting foam on military bases, PFOA, PFOS and 28 additional fluorinated chemicals were detected in neighboring civilian groundwater taken from a well near a military base where firefighting foam was used. With over 3,000 highly fluorinated chemicals in existence, there is an urgent need to locate contamination hotspots and to understand the best methods for removal from drinking water sources.

In an attempt to identify effective methods, researchers examined different filtration options and discovered both granular activated carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters have the capacity to remove these chemicals from water. However, the need to change the filters often greatly drives up the cost of these efforts. Additionally, the underlying challenge of identifying their presence within the private supply or the wastewater treatment system remains.

The study findings were published in June as a part of a special virtual issue by Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) and Environmental Science & Technology Letters (ES&T Letters) “to emphasize the breadth of the issues that PFASs represent and to highlight recent advances in our understanding of the impacts of PFASs and the potential to deal with PFASs in the environment.”

[Source: Michigan Radio]