PFAS Water Filters for New York State

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Christina Liu | Hydroviv Science Team   

The State of New York recently implemented testing requirements and water quality standards for 2 PFAS variations: PFOA and PFOS. PFAS (Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are a federally unregulated contaminant known to cause adverse health effects, including cancer. These new requirements have forced municipalities to take a closer look at the safety of their drinking water. This article will address what PFAS compounds are, the "safe" levels in New York State drinking water, and water filtration brands that actually remove them. 

PFAS in New York State

New York was one of the first states to adopt drinking water standards for PFAS chemicals in August 2020. Governor Cuomo announced maximum contaminant levels (MCL) of 10 parts per trillion for emerging contaminants PFOA and PFOS in New York's drinking water, which are among the lowest in the United States. These regulations also require public water systems in New York State to regularly test and monitor for PFOA and PFOS, regardless of size. Both contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems across the country, but still remain unregulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for setting regulatory limits under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

In November 2020, the State Department of Health made public that municipal water from Suez (which supplies drinking water to Rockland County) had PFOA concentrations of 19 parts per trillion (ppt), in excess of the state maximum level of 10 ppt. PFAS was also detected in groundwater near an incineration facility north of Albany. As the results of the mandated testing from municipal water suppliers are made public, more PFAS “hot spots” in New York are likely to be revealed.

What Are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances?

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of harmful compounds that can be found in drinking water sources across the country. PFAS can take hundreds of years to degrade in the environment which is why you may see them referred to as ‘forever chemicals.’ PFAS are not currently regulated at the federal level, but some states have created regulations or monitoring criteria, including New York State. PFAS are known to increase the risk of cancer, increase cholesterol, increase the risk of miscarriage by 80-120%, and several other negative health outcomes. According to the National Institute of Health, over 4,700 different PFAS variations have been used in some type of manufacturing since the 1950’s.

Is 10 ppt Safe?

There’s a bit of uncertainty around the “safe level” of exposure to PFAS compounds. There are only a handful of studies that assess associated health impacts, and most agree that more research is necessary to make a determination. In 2016, EPA set a non-enforceable Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion for combined PFOA and PFOS. More recent data suggests that this level is far too high to provide meaningful protection against a range of negative health impacts. A recent study also found that a “safe level” or PFAS could be as low as 0.1 parts per trillion. Although the Massachusetts PFAS standard is on the lower end of state limits, our team would rather see even less PFAS allowed in municipal tap water. 

Not All Water Filters Remove PFAS

If you live in New York and you’re looking for a solution, it’s important to understand that not all water filters are able to remove PFAS chemicals. Duke University completed a study in 2020 that tested various filtration brands and their ability to remove PFAS from drinking water. The results found that popular brands including Brita and Pur did not do a good job of removing PFAS compounds. Refrigerator filters tested by the Duke research team, including; Samsung, Whirlpool, and GE, also failed to remove PFAS. The full results of this study can be found here. Hydroviv filters are both NSF certified and third-party tested to remove PFAS chemicals. To request our full testing and removal data, please email hello@hydroviv.com

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