Written by John Goss
They are man-made, they are harmful, they don’t break down for decades, and they are everywhere. In fact, they are so “everywhere” that 95% of us here in the United States have these chemicals in our bodies. They are even found in breast milk.
What are these nasty things? “PFAS” is the overarching term for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of several thousand chemicals. Due to the manufacturing and distribution of PFAS-containing products, they end up in our water supply and simply do not go away for a long, long time. And once in our bodies, they stay there and build up over time.
What Are the Risks of PFAS?
According to one senior CDC official, PFAS in U.S. drinking water presents “one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades.”
A recent review from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a host of health effects associated with PFAS exposure, including:
- Liver disease;
- Decreased fertility;
- Increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease;
- Increased cholesterol.
Exposure to PFAS may also cause decreased vaccine response in children (this seems huge at this moment in time!), increased blood pressure, and infertility.
Why PFAS Exist
You’re probably wondering, if these chemicals are so bad, why in the world do we use them?
Well, PFAS have handy properties such as resisting stains, grease, and water. They are therefore used in clothing, outerwear, upholstery, and carpeting.
PFAS also enhance the appearance, “wear-ability” and water-proofness, of makeup and personal care products.
PFAS create a nonstick finish on cookware and food packaging. They’re also present in fire-fighting foam and numerous industrial applications.
DuPont began our love affair with PFAS when they introduced Teflon back in the 1940’s. As is the case with many chemical innovations, industry gets ahead of scientific documentation of health impacts, and we end up with decades of exposure and then more decades trying to undo the damage.
PFAS in Water
So why is nobody talking much about these chemicals? I believe it is because, at this point, nobody knows quite what to do about them. They’re in the products we use every day, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and especially the water we drink.
Because they are so widely used, PFAS eventually end up in the water cycle and become distributed into essentially every water source.
They can be found in deep wells as well as municipal water systems. They are not filtered out of municipal water systems. If you’re curious about potential PFAS contamination where you live, check out this national, interactive map from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
How to Reduce PFAS Exposure
This is all depressing, I know. But we hope you know that we never leave you hanging on a TOTALLY bad note!
We always aim to empower you with information and healthy alternatives and action steps, such as:
1. Checking out the EWG’s concise guide to avoiding PFAS—it’s only a couple of pages long and definitely worth your time.
2. Reviewing this list of companies that offer PFAS-free products and doing your best to support them!
Filter Your Drinking Water
This may be the most important step–but also the easiest to implement, thankfully.
Ingestion is the main source of exposure to PFAS, and we ingest a lot of water. Standard carbon filters are better than nothing when it comes to PFAS, and reverse osmosis (RO) filters do a better job. (RO systems can be really wasteful; read more here).
A relatively new filtration system, using bituminous granulated activated carbon (GAC), has now been shown to be highly effective at removing PFAS chemicals from water.
We are thrilled to have found a manufacturer who can make this filter for us–we’ve added it to our own water filters and it is also available in our store. There are four options if you want one of these filters: 1) If you’ve have previously purchased a filter from us, you can buy this upgrade and add it to your filter. 2) You can also purchase and use the PFAS filter on its own, without any other filter. 3) You can purchase an under-counter system and then separately purchase this new PFAS filter and use them together. 4) If you don’t have any filter now, you can wait (hopefully not much longer!) for a custom unit we are working on that will feature a carbon block filter, an activated charcoal filter, a KDF filter (these three tackle chlorine, trihalomethanes, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and much more), plus this separate bituminous GAC filter for PFAS. (There will be the option to add a fluoride filter if you want that as well.) UPDATE: The filter is here!
If you want to do option 4 and would like to secure your unit, send us an email and just say “filter” in the subject line–and we will hold a unit for you when they are made. Getting on the waitlist isn’t an obligation to buy this filter–we just want to have some sense of how many to make right away.
And to be clear, if you already have one of our filters and you add on this new PFAS one, it’ll be the same as the filter we are building–we just wanted to make it an option for people to purchase one unit and get all the filtration easily.
Feel free to ask questions below, or give me a call at 717-413-8182.
John, Certified Holistic Health Coach
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