What are Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (commonly known as PFAS) were introduced in the 1940s and are still in use today. This long period of use is due to their great usefulness — they were originally used in non-stick cookware, coating them with a substance known as Teflon, but the number of applications has grown tremendously. They’re also used to apply water-resistant coatings to clothing, to protect food wrappers and boxes from grease, in foam for fighting fires,and for numerous other purposes including stain resistance for carpets (Scotchgard). The extreme usefulness of PFAS chemicals has resulted in them becoming prevalent across the whole of the US. They are completely man-made and break down very slowly, earning them the popular name of ‘forever chemicals’. As a result of their characteristics and widespread use, they’ve now become a national problem that is being dealt with belatedly and gradually.

Why Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water are a Problem

Studies over many years have shown that PFAS cause many health problems that include an increased risk of developing cancer, effects on the reproductive system, and an undermining of the immune system so it is less able to protect against viruses. Women with high levels of PFAS in their system were found to have a 40% lower chance of becoming pregnant. The manufacturing process for PFAS has resulted in discharges into the environment while firefighting foam used by the military has also caused problems. These have combined over many years to contaminate groundwater sources so that drinking water is now extensively affected by PFAS. There are thousands of types of PFAS or Forever Chemicals, and it is reckoned that 45% of the country’s drinking water will contain at least one type. As of June 2022, 2,858 locations across fifty states and two territories were known to be contaminated with PFAS, and up to 110 million Americans could have drinking water that contains the substances. Given the long life of PFAS, this is a serious problem that needs to be resolved.

What’s Being Done to Counter the Problem?

Although the problem has been known since 1950, there has been very little action to deal with it. While the use of products such as Scotchgard has been discontinued, and the military is phasing out the use of PFAS-based firefighting foam, forever chemicals remain widely used elsewhere. In addition, since the chemicals are so long-lasting and are already widely spread, the problem won’t go away for many years. Some states have already banned the use of PFAS in certain products while others require tap water to be tested by utilities for the chemicals. Five billion dollars has been provided by Congress to clean up PFAS, but the cost will almost certainly be much more than that. Any excess is likely to be covered by the utilities, even though they didn’t cause the problem, which means the consumers will eventually pay through increased water bills. It is all very long-term, and so the problem will remain for an extended period. During this time, you may still be consuming water that’s contaminated and risking your health. The only solution, therefore, is to arrange a test of your water (which we can provide for free) and then install equipment to filter out any problems. We offer only the best in the industry via our certified Kinetico RO systems that can remove up to 99% of contaminants. So, get in touch today, and we’ll help you stay healthy.