Per-and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (also known as PFAS) represent a large grouping of chemicals that include: PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate); PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid); PFHxS (Perfluorohexane Sulfonate); PFBS (Perfluorobutane Sulfonate); and other compounds that don’t naturally occur in our environment.
Of these man-made chemicals, the most widely studied are PFOS and PFOA. That’s because these two chemicals were predominately used in the manufacturing of popular household and packaging products across the country, including furniture fabrics, paper food packaging, carpets, and non-stick cookware (EPA).
What Are PFOS & PFOA?
Both PFOS and PFOA are fluorinated organic chemicals that were largely used among manufacturing industries, beginning in the 1940s (EPA). In fact, it wasn’t until 2000, that PFOS—and then later PFOA—was eventually phased out by major U.S. corporations. The damage, however, was unfortunately done.
Again, PFOS and PFOA are man-made, which means they do not break down organically like other compounds. They’re often referred to as “forever chemical” because it will likely take millions of years for them to decompose. And, because they were used in the cooking and packaging of common foods, most people have already been exposed to them and still have them in their bodies.
According to the EPA, scientists have found traces of PFOS and PFOA in human blood. But food is not the only reason for our exposure to these chemicals. Drinking water may also contain PFAS contamination. It was discovered that firefighting foams, for example, which contained these chemicals could contaminate ground water during practice drills (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency). It’s important to remember that PFAS not only affects the quality of our drinking water, but it also can (and does) contaminate fish and other wildlife in our region.
What Are Safe Levels of PFOS and PFOA in Drinking Water?
In 2009, the EPA published a health advisory for PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. This federal agency continues to test and update this advisory as new information and studies are underway.
Currently, the nationally recommended level of PFOS and PFOA is 70 parts per trillion (ppt). According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), this number is much less:
- PFOS (15 ppt)
- PFOA (35 ppt)
- PFHxS (47 ppt)
- PFBS (2,000 ppt)
- PFBA (7,000 ppt)
What If Your Water Contains Higher Levels of PFOS and PFOA?
Traces of PFAS in your drinking water can lead to health risks if ingested above the recommended levels for consumption. According to the EPA:
PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes).
PFAS in Washington County, MN
As the title of this article suggests, Minnesota is one of many states to report higher levels of PFAS in private and public well water. Among the counties affected by PFAS is Washington County, located in the East Metro area.
Cities within this area that are affected by higher levels of PFAS, include:
- Cottage Grove
- Lake Elmo
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Why Do These Areas Experience PFAS Contamination?
Back in the 1940s, like many manufacturing companies, 3M regularly used PFAS chemicals in the making of its products at its Cottage Grove facility. It’s reported that the company disposed of PFAS chemicals in Washington County’s former landfill area in Lake Elmo, as well as its disposal sites in Woodbury and Oakdale (Washington County).
At the time this was happening, the chemical residue was never removed from the area’s ground water supply. And as a result, PFAS eventually made its way to the Mississippi River (Northeastern University).
In addition to the cities listed above that are affected by PFAS in their drinking water, in 2017, many private and public wells were reported to contain higher levels of PFAS, too. These areas include:
- West Lakeland Township
- Lakeland Shores
- St. Paul Park
If you live in these areas, you’ve likely already received a letter from your local government informing you to avoid drinking from your tap water. If you haven’t and you’re worried about PFAS contamination, you can request lab testing in your area to check for levels.
To stay connected to Minnesota’s monitoring of PFAS and other water contaminants, visit their Biomonitoring page. Or, check out the Minnesota Groundwater Contamination Atlas for updated testing results and information.
Treating PFAS Contamination with Kinetico
As certified dealers of Kinetico, we can assure you that the best solution to your PFAS water issue is through the use of an advanced Kinetico water filtration system. Kinetico was among the first water conditioning brands to have its products certified by the NSF for PFAS removal.
From drinking water to whole-house filtration systems, Kinetico can help improve your home’s water supply while simultaneously removing both natural and man-made chemicals from affecting its quality or your family’s health.
Worried about PFAS Contamination in Lake Elmo, Oakdale or Woodbury, MN?
Though PFAS can only be detected using lab testing, if you live in, or around, any of the East Metro areas listed above, you’ll want to invest in an advanced water filtration system that can effectively remove higher amounts of PFAS to keep your drinking water safe.
Because every home is different, you may decide on one, or multiple, Kinetico products to help you enhance your home with clean, fresh water for drinking, cooking, and running your appliances.
Ready to feel confident about your drinking water? Trust our team in Little Canada to help you find the best home water solution. To learn which products can benefit you, contact Aquarius Home Services today.