The Effects of PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water

PFOA and PFOS in drinking water are the newest concern for millions of Americans. The chemicals can be widespread and dangerous.

The Effects of PFOS and PFOA in Drinking Water

Recent health advisories for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water have many Americans concerned. What do these advisories mean for you and your family?
In 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established health advisories for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).
Health advisories provide information on contaminants that can cause human health effects and are known or anticipated to occur in drinking water.
Read on to learn more about PFOA and PFOS. And find out what you can do to keep these contaminants* out of your water supply.

What Are PFOA and PFOS?

PFOA and PFOS are artificial, toxic chemicals from the PFC family. The EPA has cited PFOA and PFOS in drinking water as a threat to public health.
The EPA has set the combined limit for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion. But this is only an advisory level and is not enforced. There is no national legal cap on the amount of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. And water providers are not required by the EPA to test for PFOA or PFOS.

How Did They End Up in the Water Supply?

PFOA and PFOS were used for decades to produce stain-resistant goods. Like carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, paper packaging and cookware. They were also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes.
Smoke stacks from factories emitted the chemicals, which drifted to the ground. When it rained, the chemicals dissolved and moved through the soil, entering groundwater.
As of 2015, the US no longer uses PFOA and PFOS in production. But the effects still linger.
When left untreated, the chemicals can remain in water for decades.

Widespread Exposure

Since 2013, EPA testing has found PFOA in the drinking water of 6.5 million people. And the chemical was detected in 94 public water systems in 27 states. The majority of samples were below the EPA advisory level. But some statewide averages were up to 175 times higher than the EPA limit.
This testing was not comprehensive. So, it’s possible PFOA and PFOS are more widespread across America. And that includes private wells and small water systems, which weren’t part of the testing.
Those near factories, airports or military sites are particularly at risk for PFOA and PFOS in their drinking water.

The Health Effects of PFOA and PFOS

PFOA and PFOS in drinking water are carcinogenic. And they are linked to an increased risk for at least six major diseases:
  • Diagnosed high cholesterol
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
PFOA and PFOS are especially dangerous to pregnant women. Some studies have linked the chemicals to fetal growth problems, including low birth weight. But the science is contested. In general, the effects of PFOA and PFOS are higher for the young and unborn.
Like lead, bioaccumulation is a large concern for PFOA and PFOS. The chemicals can build up in the body over time. So even small, but persistent doses can be dangerous.

Culligan Product Recommendations and Solutions

EPA officials recommend NSF and ANSI-certified filters to reduce PFOA and PFOS. Certified filters can reduce PFOA and PFOS by more than 95%.
Culligan reverse osmosis systems match NSF and ANSI standards for PFOA and PFOS reduction.
The Culligan Total Defense Cartridge is a great option for reducing PFOA and PFOS. It offers the most comprehensive carbon filter. And acts as a last line of defense.
Culligan also provides bottled water in case of an emergency.

Next Steps

You rely on clean water to power your home and nourish your family every day.
Contact your local Culligan water expert to learn more. We can help make sure your water is better tasting and safer for your home and loved ones.
*Contaminants may not be in your water.