Effective Methods to Remove PFAS from Your Drinking Water

by Asaiah Passwater / Jan 22, 2020
Effective Methods to Remove PFAS from Your Drinking Water

U.S. Tap Water Found To Have Widespread Contamination of "Forever Chemicals"

An alarming study published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that the contamination of PFAS (also known as the “forever chemicals”) is likely detectable in all major water supplies in the US. 1

43 out of 44 samples from across 31 states tested positive for PFAS contamination. Forty-one locations were shown to have PFAS detected at levels at which independent studies have shown PFAS to pose a serious risk to human health. And in all those cases where the tests found PFAS, contamination had not been publicly reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or state environmental agencies.

“It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG

It was previously estimated that 110 million Americans could have PFAS in their drinking water. However, the results of this latest study suggest that the actual number is much higher. In addition, some of the highest PFAS contamination was observed in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Miami, New Orleans, Ann Arbor, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.


What are PFAS?

PFAS is an umbrella term that represents a family of over 9,000 chemicals. The name PFAS is an acronym for both per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. PFAS may also be referred to more specifically by one of the individual chemicals, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). These all represent the same category of contamination.

These chemicals were widely used because of their heat-resistant and non-stick properties. You might also know them by their more commercial name: Teflon. That’s right, non-stick cookware.

To learn more about PFAS chemicals and their adverse health effects, head over to our blog, Everything You Need To Know About PFAS

What are PFAS? What items contain PFAS?

Water Filtration Systems to Remove PFAS

In 2017, scientists discovered a new PFAS called GenX, which contaminated well water throughout North Carolina. This finding prompted a study from Duke University and North Carolina State University, revealing that many household water filter systems are deficient in effectively removing PFAS from tap water faucets across the U.S. In some cases, poorly maintained home filters made water quality worse.

PFAS chemicals are difficult to remove with standard water treatment systems, but the EPA recognizes three technologies effective at reducing the PFA levels in your drinking water.

Granular Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon is the most studied treatment system for the removal of PFAS. The carbon substance in these systems is a highly porous material that adsorbs PFAS through both a physical and chemical process.

Ion Exchange Resins

NSF/Ansi-certified Ion exchange systems contain materials that act as tiny, powerful magnets, attracting the negatively charged ions in PFAS and extracting them from your drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

Reverse osmosis systems employ a series of filters, including carbon filters, sediment filters, and a semi-permeable membrane. Pressure forces the water through this filtration system so that contaminants are left behind while clean water is safely stored in a water tank ready for use.

With a reverse osmosis system, 4 gallons of water are discarded along with contaminants for every 1 gallon of clean water produced.

What is the legal limit for PFAS?

Sadly, PFAS are currently an unregulated contaminant. This means that there is NO LEGAL LIMIT on the levels of PFAS that can be in your tap water. The EPA has only set a “Health Advisory” for the chemicals and has no enforceable limit to how much PFAS can be in your tap water sources legally. 2   This also means that municipalities are not enforced to actually test for the contaminant in the drinking water. Currently, the EPA only regulates 96 contaminants commonly found in drinking water, and that list has not been updated for years.

The EPA has only set a "Health Advisory" for the chemicals and has no enforceable limit to how much PFAS can be in your tap water.

How much PFAS is safe to drink?

Essentially zero. The measurement for PFAS is in such tiny increments that it is measured in parts per trillion (ppt). For reference, there are one million millions in one trillion. So the actual amount of PFAS that is safe to drink is zero. The EPA has set a preliminary Health Advisory at 70 ppt. However, most scientists believe that the toxic dose of PFAS is as low as one ppt.

Will PFAS / PFOA Show Up On My TDS Meter?

No, the concentrations in which PFAS are shown to be toxic are at levels 0.000001 Parts per Million. To accurately measure this, you need specialized equipment to measure in Parts per Trillion. Relying on a consumer-grade TDS meter is not advisable. Instead, properly calibrated laboratory equipment is required.      

Are there household water filters that remove PFAS?

PFAS contamination is a relatively new discovery, which means that most of the typical countertop or whole house filters sold in retail stores have been tested/certified for filtering PFAS. Simple carbon filters do not have PFAS testing. Even more advanced filters, such as those made by ZeroWater, cannot remove PFAS. Some reverse osmosis systems may reduce PFAS, but this varies significantly between units, and most systems have not yet been tested for this. 

The filtration technology to target PFAS does exist, and we’re proud to recommend our Clearly Filtered Affinity Technology removes up to 99.8% of PFAS contaminants.

Which filters remove PFAS?

Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher 

Clearly Filtered Under Sink Filter System 

Clearly Filtered Inline Refrigerator Filter

We currently have testing for PFAS removal on our top 3 selling products: our filtered water pitcher, under-sink system, and inline fridge filter. Likely, our other filters featuring the same Affinity Filtration Technology (such as our water bottles) do, in fact, reduce PFAS but testing for those is not yet completed.

Still have questions?

If you have additional questions about PFAS or would like to get in touch with someone about which filter might be right for you and your family, then give us a call at 1-877-876-2740, send us an email at info at clearlyfiltered.com, or chat with us on our website.



1) https://www.ewg.org/research/national-pfas-testing/

2) https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos 

3) https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/07/08/spring-hill-advisory-july-2-2019_0.pdf

4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4483690/