How to Remove PFAS from Water? Can RO Help?

Have you checked if your drinking water contains PFAS? Long-term consumption of tap water containing PFAS may pose potential health risks. We recommend testing your drinking water and removing this toxic substance. This article will tell you how to remove pfas from water at home. To ensure the safety of your water, let’s dive in.

1. What is PFAS?

PFAS is an organic pollutant containing fluoride ions, with the full name being per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. Common compounds include PFOA and PFOS. These substances are typically found in water in the form of particles or microparticles. According to estimates, over 50% of tap water worldwide is believed to contain varying levels of PFAS contamination.

What is PFAS and how to remove it

PFAS come in two types: long-chain PFAS and short-chain PFAS. Long-chain PFAS refers to compounds with longer carbon chains, while short-chain PFAS refers to those with shorter carbon chains. You can find them in tap water, well water, groundwater, waterproof materials, cosmetics, plastic bottles, paint, food packaging, dental floss, rainwater, wastewater, contaminated soil, and even in the blood of humans and animals.

2. Why You Should Remove It?

PFAS easily dissolve in drinking water and are difficult to eliminate from the body through metabolism or excretion. You will find it challenging to clear PFAS from your body, as it persists in the body for a long time. The more you are exposed to it, the greater the harm it can cause to your body, even if the PFAS content in your water is low. Therefore, removing PFAS from water is essential for environmental protection and public health.

Health conditions that PFAS exposure can cause include:

  • Cancer (kidney cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Reproductive issues
  • Immune system disorders
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Child development issues
  • Kidney damage
  • And other health conditions

3. 3 Ways to Remove PFAS from Your Water

The toxic PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” earned this name due to their strong stability and persistence, making them challenging to remove from water. However, there are still methods available, and we recommend the following three PFAS removal technologies for purifying drinking water.

1)Activated carbon treatment: Activated carbon filters utilize the adsorption properties of activated carbon to effectively reduce PFAS. These filters typically use granular activated carbon (GAC) or powdered activated carbon as the filtration media. When water containing PFAS passes through the filtration media, the contaminants are adsorbed onto the surface of the activated carbon, effectively separating them from the water.

Due to the relatively low cost of activated carbon, it is an economical choice for large-scale removal of PFAS from water. Additionally, GAC filters can also remove organic compounds, chlorine, odors, and other impurities from water.

Activated carbon treatment to remove PFAS in water

2)High-pressure membrane filtration: Membrane filtration is sufficient to remove over 90% of PFAS and other pollutants from water, including river water, seawater, well water, and tap water. No chemical agents are required in the filtration process, and nanofiltration systems can continuously and stably produce clean water.

Membrane filtration to eliminate PFAS in water

3)Ion Exchange: Ion exchange (IX) resin is an efficient and cost-effective method for removing PFAS, often used in small-scale water treatment applications. PFAS molecules typically carry a negative charge, and using positively charged anion exchange resins will attract PFAS with negative charges. When the IX resin firmly captures PFAS, the PFAS content in the water decreases, achieving the removal effect. This process involves physical adsorption, and the anion exchange resins used include macroporous and styrene-based resins.

Ion Exchange-PFAS water filter

4. Does Reverse Osmosis Remove PFAS? How?

Absolutely. Reverse osmosis (RO) is the most efficient and precise water treatment method among membrane filtration technologies. It can remove the vast majority of harmful contaminants from water, including pfas chemicals. Given its excellent filtration efficiency, coupled with its ability to remove 99% of other pollutants, RO filters tend to be more expensive than other types of filters.

The process of PFAS removal in RO systems primarily involves physical isolation. RO membranes have small nanoscale pores. When high pressure forces raw water through the RO membrane, the semi-permeable membrane selectively allows only water molecules to pass through. That’s why the produced water is purified.

However, PFAS molecules are appropriately sized to be intercepted by the RO membrane. Therefore, over 90% of common PFAS, including both long-chain and short-chain PFAS, are blocked on the other side of the membrane. This is the principle behind the partial removal of PFAS from water by reverse osmosis systems.

How Reverse Osmosis Remove PFAS

It’s worth noting that the ability of reverse osmosis systems to remove PFAS can be affected by the type and quality of the RO membrane, the application scenario, and the water quality.

5. Which is Better for Treating PFAS, RO or Carbon Filters?

Reverse osmosis systems and activated carbon filters are both effective PFAS treatment technologies used in various environments including households, commercial establishments, and industries. You can choose the most suitable method for treating PFAS based on factors like application scenarios, original water PFAS concentration, budget, and installation space.

Which is Better for Treating PFAS, RO or Carbon Filters

Carbon Filters: The advantage of GAC filters is their ability to remove approximately PFOA and PFO at a lower cost and system configuration. If you have a limited budget and space, and seek a cost-effective and easy-to-install-and-maintain option, carbon filters are the preferred choice.

Compared to reverse osmosis filters, the drawback of GAC is its relatively lower removal efficiency of PFAS, typically ranging from 70% to 90%. In particular, GAC’s effectiveness in removing short-chain PFAS, compounds with fewer carbon atoms, is moderate. Therefore, carbon filters are suitable for treating original water with lower concentrations of PFAS.

RO Systems: The advantage lies in their high removal rate of PFAS, generally ranging from 90% to 98%, for both long-chain and more challenging short-chain PFAS. If you need to treat water with a high concentration of PFAS or require high-quality product water, reverse osmosis water filters are the best choice.

The limitation is the relatively high cost of equipment, and the need for regular maintenance and consumable replacement. If you have a large volume of water to treat, the equipment will also occupy more space.

If you have difficulty in choosing a PFAS water filter for your home, please consult a professional water treatment expert or contact NEWater. We provide you with free solutions.

6. Common Household PFAS Water Filters

GAC Pitcher Filters: This system is very easy to operate. Simply pour tap water into the pitcher, and after passing through the GAC filter cartridge, you’ll get cleaner and healthier drinking water. However, its limitation is its short lifespan, requiring regular maintenance with filter replacement every three to four weeks.

GAC Faucet Mounted Systems: You just need to install the GAC faucet mounted system on the kitchen faucet, and it will start working. The tap water will pass through the granular activated carbon filter cartridge, providing your household with great-tasting, high-quality drinking water.

GAC Under-the-Sink Filters: This filter is suitable for installation under the kitchen sink, without taking up kitchen space or affecting the aesthetics of the decor. It still uses granular activated carbon filter cartridges inside, eliminating chlorine, odors, and bad taste from tap water.

Whole House Filters: Whole house RO systems are typically installed on the main water pipe of the house, providing water for showering, washing, cooking, and other purposes throughout the entire house.

Point-of-Use Reverse Osmosis Systems: For example, under sink reverse osmosis filters. Unlike whole house reverse osmosis systems, these systems have higher filtration efficiency and are designed to provide drinking water for specific purposes, such as kitchen faucets or water dispensers.

7. Can NEWater Help?

NEWater is a professional PFAS treatment company. We specialize in designing, manufacturing, and installing customized water filters, RO machines, and other water treatment devices according to your requirements.

We can customize the best PFAS removal solution for your home. Whether it’s treating PFAS from drinking water or wastewater, contact our experts, and we’ll help you achieve optimal removal results at the most competitive prices.

FAQs:

Is it Possible for Boiling Water to Get Rid of PFAS?

Boiling water is not an effective method for removing PFAS. Although heat can break down some PFAS, most PFAS have high stability, solubility, and heat resistance, making it unlikely for them to be broken down and removed from water by heat.

Does My Bottled Water Contain PFAS?

There may be traces of PFAS in your bottled water. Previous reports and studies have detected trace low pfas levels in bottled water. However, bottled water suppliers, especially certified brands, rigorously control the quality of their water and production lines to ensure safety and quality. You can request a water quality report from bottled water manufacturers.

Can Skin Absorb PFAS?

Yes, when people breathe or come into contact with air through their skin, PFAS are likely to be ingested by the body. However, this is not the primary route. You need to pay attention to the health of your drinking water and food.

How to Test PFAS in Your Water?

As a resident using public water, if you want to know if your drinking water contains PFAS, you can try to find relevant water quality information online or contact your water supplier to obtain a water quality report for PFAS testing. As a homeowner with a private well, we recommend finding an EPA-certified laboratory to test and analyze your well water.

Besides PFAS, What Else Can Reverse Osmosis Remove?

  • Heavy metals(arsenic, chromium,cadmium, mercury)
  • Microorganisms(Fungi, viruses, coliform bacteria)
  • Organic matter(estrogen,urea, ammonia, grease, dioxane)
  • Soluble salts
  • Inorganic substances
  • Colloids
  • Large particle suspensions
  • Fluorides
  • Chlorine residuals
  • Odors
  • Colors
  • Microplastics
  • Radon
  • Parasites
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