PFOA in Water

How to Address Chemicals & Contaminants In Your Drinking Water

What Is PFOA and How Can I Ensure My Water Is Safe From It?

PFOA Is a "Forever Chemical"

PFOA is a man-made chemical with an ultra-long half-life, meaning it takes a long time to break apart or decompose. Unfortunately, this also means it can stay in our bodies for years without being excreted or broken down.

PFOA Can Harm Our Health

The CDC recognizes PFOA as a compound that can cause developmental issues, reproductive problems, and damage to the liver. Researchers are further investigating other negative impacts PFOA can have on our bodies.

PFOA Can Be Found in Tap Water

A study conducted by scientists at the Environmental Working Group found that out of 44 water samples taken from cities all over the United States, only one had no PFAs, including PFOA. PFOA levels aren't regulated, so cities are not required to test for it or post PFOA test results.

PFOA in WI and MN

There are several areas in both Wisconsin and Minnesota that contain PFAs (a group of chemicals that includes PFOA) in their drinking water. Even if you don't live by one of the dots on these maps, your drinking water could still be compromised because it wasn't tested.

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Frequently asked questions

PFOA is an acronym for a substance called perfluorooctanoic acid, a man-made chemical that is known for being used to create Teflon for nonstick cookware and also found in 3M Scotchguard™.

PFOA is a member of the PFA family, a group of chemicals that are used in thousands of products for their nonstick, heat-resistant nature. These chemicals are found in fabrics, furniture, and carpets as well as heat, stain, and water-resistant products.

Some cardboard and paper products, like those used to wrap and carry fast food, can also contain perfluorooctanoic acid.

PFOA was first introduced in the 1950s to create products that repel water and oil, making them useful for a variety of household purposes. In the early 2000s, some companies voluntarily phased it out of their manufacturing processes because of health concerns.

Due to their long-lasting nature, significant amounts of PFOA still linger around areas where businesses and factories have not used them for decades. Other manufacturing plants continue to use them today, further contributing to PFOA contamination.

PFOA and other PFAs can leach into groundwater through soil or air contamination. The chemical can be a byproduct of manufacturing, and higher levels in drinking water are typically found around military bases and oil production facilities.

PFOA is also found in drinking water near firefighter training bases, as well as areas where firefighting foam was used in high amounts.

Even if you don’t live near factories, military bases, or firefighter training academies, PFOA can infiltrate your water system, as washing pots and pans made with PFOA can increase its concentration in your area’s water supply.

Some fabrics are also made with these chemicals, and some find their way into a water supply through discarded laundry water as well.

Most people actually have traces of PFAs like PFOA in their blood from drinking water, mostly due to the fact that the chemical doesn’t break down and remains in the environment and our bodies for years. The Environmental Protection Agency states that the safe level of PFOA exposure in a person’s lifetime is 70 parts per trillion.

Those who work with these chemicals regularly or live in areas with higher concentrations of PFOA in their water supply are at an increased risk of consuming PFAs at unsafe levels. According to the EPA, a high level of PFOA in a person’s blood is associated with:

  • Developmental issues
  • Reproductive problems
  • Liver damage
  • Thyroid malfunction
  • Increased cancer risk (testicular and kidney)

Occasional exposure to small amounts of PFOA may not create problematic symptoms, but the cumulative effects of these chemicals can be life-threatening.

Sadly, the Environmental Protection Agency does not enforce limits of PFOA and other PFAs in drinking water, so cities do not have to test for it or release that information to the public. You won’t be able to tell if PFOA is present in your drinking water based on municipal reports, and it does not change the taste, smell, or color of your water.

The only way to know for sure that your drinking water is free from these compounds is by having a comprehensive water test performed on your water supply.

Many people understand that boiling water before consuming it can kill bacteria and make it safer to drink. Unfortunately, when it comes to PFOA and other PFAs, boiling actually increases their concentration. The only way to ensure that your water is free of PFOA and other contaminants is to install a proper water filtration system.

Water filtration systems like the ones available through Kinetico are able to filter out tiny particles like PFAs. If you want to make sure that your home’s water is safe for you and your family, contact the water pros at Aquarius Water Conditioning to set up your free in-home water test that will help us determine appropriate next steps.

One of the best interventions we offer is the Kinetico K5 Drinking Station that removes 99% of contaminants and comes with a 10-year warranty. This device not only removes PFOA, but it also takes care of minerals, bacteria, viruses, arsenic, iron and more contaminants that could be present in your drinking water. It’s our mission to keep your family safe and healthy by helping you get the best drinking water possible.

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