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PFAS in tap water

PFAS, the toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water: latest news

Here at PureH2O, we’re committed to bringing you the latest news about PFAS, just one set of  contaminants and impurities found in our drinking water. This past month has brought an avalanche of revelations about PFAS, toxic ‘forever chemicals’ that are described as:
probably the greatest chemical threat the human race is facing in the 21st century – Dr Cavers, Fidra.

Not familiar with the issue?

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a family of 10,000 chemicals, of which 2 are considered the most dangerous (PFOS and PFOA) .

Their water-repellant and non-stick properties make them convenient for manufacturing a wide variety of everyday products. This includes clothes, cosmetics, cookware and food packaging, as well as fire-fighting foams and PPE.

Why are forever chemicals a problem? How are we exposed to them?

PFAS are classed as ‘ubiquitous, persistant and bio-accumulative’, or uPBT for short. That means they are everywhere, they never break down, and they build up in the bodies of humans, animals and wildlife.

They end up in our waterways (rivers, streams, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters), which means they make their way into our drinking water – what comes out of our tap.  In fact:
drinking water is recognised as one of the main sources of exposure – Dr Julie Schneider, Chem Trust (quoted in Salvidge, 25.03.21)

Should I be worried about PFAS?

Forever chemicals infiltrate our bodies deep down. They’re linked to a range of health problems, including:

  • testicular and kidney cancers
  • thyroid, liver and kidney diseases
  • high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • ulcerative colitis
  • a depressed immune system, meaning vaccines are less effective
  • low birth weight and developmental problems.
PFAS in tap water
PFAS contaminate tap water and are linked to disease.

What’s the latest news?

Water quality: the government wanted our waterways to meet ‘good chemical status’ by 2027, but because of the extent of PFAS pollution, this won’t be met until 2063.

Local impact: the River Wyre in Lancashire is a marine protection zone and important habitat for key fish species, but it is polluted with a chemical company’s effluent that’s heavily contaminated by PFAS. It’s described as a “huge concern” but Dr Megson, a forensic environmental scientist, says he believes the extremely high levels are only the “tip of the iceberg“. (Salvidge & Hosea, 24.02.23).

Scale of the problem: a new mapping project reveals how widespread heavy PFAS contamination is across the UK and Europe. The project identified 17,000 sites, 640 of which have concentrations of 1,000 ng/l and a further 300 sites with concentrations at an alarming 10,000ng/l. These are all way over the maximum permitted levels allowed in England (100ng/l), which are far higher than those permitted in other countries.

Climate change and the food chain: “alarming levels” discovered in melting Arctic ice, which “affects the entire food web” as the PFAS travel downstream to other parts of the ecosystem. (Perkins, 11.02.23).

Polar bears, as apex animals, are suffering particularly high concentrations of forever chemicals in their blood. This adds an extra stressor to animals already burdened by the impacts of climate change.

Arctic animals suffer the extra burden of PFAS in addition to the effects of climate change

What are the government and water utilities doing to protect our health?

Very little. The UK lags behind other countries we have very high ‘acceptable’ levels of PFOS and PFOA – the two most dangerous PFAS chemicals – in drinking water. The Drinking Water Inspectorate’s (DWI) guidelines state that water companies should take action to reduce levels before supplying it to people’s homes if they reach more than 100ng/litre.

This is much higher than in Denmark, which sets a limit of 2ng/litre. And far higher than in the USA, which sets a limit of 0.004ng/litre. Chemist and PFAS expert Roger Klein said:

DWI limits are ridiculously high by current international standards – R Klein quoted in Salvidge & Hosea 23.02.23

And since 2006, about 120 samples of drinking water sources have been found to contain concentrations of PFOS or PFOA above that 100ng/l level.

So, is there anything I can do to protect my health?

Yes, absolutely!

The great news is that the technology DOES exist to remove PFAS from tap water. It’s no mystery, and it’s easily available in the form of reverse osmosis home water purifier.

PureH2O purifiers remove toxic forever chemicals, plus microplastics, pesticides, fertilisers, heavy metals, hormone and drug residues for total peace of mind. Download our brochure or click here to view our range of reverse osmosis home water purifiers.

RODI+ water purifier removes PFAS from tap water
The compact RODI+ water purifier, which removes PFAS forever chemicals, takes up minimal space in a kitchen cabinet. Alternatively, we can install it in the kickspace underneath to maximise your storage space.

You may also like to read:

Toxic PFAS levels in UK drinking water untested by authorities

Obesity worsened by plastic, pesticides & PFAOS in drinking water

26 samples of tap water contained illegal levels of PFAO & PFAS

References

Horton, H & Laville, S ”Forever chemicals’ mean England’s waters will miss pollution targets for decades’ Guardian 24.02.23 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/24/pfas-england-waters-not-meet-pollution-targets-by-2027 accessed 27.02.23

Perkins, T ‘Alarming levels of PFAS in Norwegian Arctic ice pose new risk to wildlife’ Guardian 11.02.23 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/11/pfas-norwegian-arctic-ice-wildlife-risk-stressor accessed 27.02.23

Salvidge, R ‘UK Flying Blind on Levels of Toxic Chemicals in Tap Water’ Guardian 25.03.21 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/25/uk-flying-blind-on-levels-of-toxic-chemicals-in-tap-water accessed 28.02.23

Salvidge, R & Hosea, L ‘Revealed: scale of ‘forever chemical’ pollution across UK and Europe’ Guardian 23.02.23 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/23/revealed-scale-of-forever-chemical-pollution-across-uk-and-europe accessed 27.02.23

Salvidge, R & Hosea, L ‘Toxic substances from chemicals firm site found polluting protected river’ Guardian 24.02.23 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/24/toxic-substances-from-agc-chemicals-firm-site-found-polluting-protected-river- accessed 27.02.23

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PureH2O Ltd manufactures, installs and maintains the world’s most innovative water purification systems and the most technologically advanced boiling, chilled and sparkling water taps. Since 1991 we have been committed to providing our domestic and commercial customers with the purest, safest, most sustainable choice of drinking water, which helps them reduce their environmental impact by avoiding single-use plastic bottled water.

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