Water Quality Information | Written By Actual Experts
How Did Hydroviv Water Filters Perform in a Duke/NC State PFAS Removal Study?
Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Eric Roy, Ph.D.
Duke University and NC State researchers recently published a study that examined the effectiveness of residential water filters against PFAS. We believe that this study is extremely important because PFAS are toxic and unregulated, which means that individuals shoulder the burden to remove them from drinking water. While we were excited to be part of this study, Hydroviv is NOT endorsed in any way by Duke University, NC State, or any of the researchers, nor did we pay any money to be part of the study.
How Effective Were Hydroviv Water Filters in Removing PFAS?
Five Hydroviv filters were tested as part of this study, four of which use currently-available active media blends. For these core formulations, the researchers tested two Under Sink Filters that connect directly to the faucet and two Refrigerator Line filters that connect to the water line that feeds the refrigerator. In all four cases, any water with PFAS present in the unfiltered samples had undetectable (below the Method Detection Limit (<MDL)) levels of PFAS after the water was filtered through a Hydroviv filter (blue text in the table below). The results here are consistent with an earlier test report that looked at PFAS removal rates. We assembled the relevant data from the more recent study for our filters in the table below.
How Did Other Common Whole House, Pitcher, and Refrigerator Filters Perform?
Unfortunately, some of the most popular pitcher, refrigerator, and whole house filters did not perform well. Alarmingly, some systems by Berkey, Aquasana, Samsung, GE, and Brita, actually had HIGHER PFAS LEVELS in the filtered water than the unfiltered sample, because of over-saturation and low quality filtration media. The red text in the table below shows detectable PFAS levels in water filtered by other major brands.
How Did Reverse Osmosis Water Filters Perform?
This study evaluated a number of quality water filters that use reverse osmosis (RO) technology. In each of the RO systems that were tested, any water with PFAS present in the unfiltered sample also had undetectable levels in the filtrate.
If You’re Considering Purchasing a Water Filter That Was Not Part of this Study
The advice we give people looking for a water filter that removes PFAS is to ask the manufacturer for 3rd party test data for PFAS removal (not just PFOA/PFOS) at the beginning and end of the filter’s advertised lifetime. Unfortunately, there are a lot of water filter brands (including filters that performed horribly in this study) that show test data that were conducted when the filter cartridges were fresh, and do not show PFAS test data for the end of the advertised filter life (which they base off chlorine removal). Fortunately, Hydroviv’s Under Sink and Refrigerator Line Filters were tested at month 1 and month 6 as part of this study, as well as the filters that were tested as part of the NC State/CFPUA study several years ago.
BREAKING: EPA Proposes Regulatory Determination For PFOA and PFOS
Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Analyst
The Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday a proposed regulatory determination for two PFAS variations; PFOA and PFOS. This decision comes after months of pressure from Congress, and communities that have been negatively impacted by PFAS contamination.
Proposed PFAS Regulatory Determination
According to yesterday's press release, EPA will propose two separate standards for PFOA and two for PFOS. One of the standards will be purely based on health impacts, and the other will take into account the financial burden of removing it from drinking water. The latter may seem counter intuitive in terms of regulating a contaminant in drinking water, but EPA must consider costs for any regulation, even when public health is compromised. EPA now has two full years to determine the Maximum Contaminant Levels or MCLs for each. An MCL is the acceptable level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water after being treated. EPA set a non-enforceable Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, in December 2019. This concentration is significantly higher than what most states are proposing for drinking water standards. For example, Michigan Environmental Council is proposing 8 parts per trillion for PFOA and 16 parts per trillion for PFOS.
One of the major takeaways of this proposed regulatory determination is that EPA has finally acknowledged that PFAS contamination is a serious threat to public health. While we’re glad to see that initial steps are being taken, there’s a long road ahead. An EPA representative from the Office of Water estimated that the final regulation would take four years to implement, which is generous at best. Regulations can take decades before being enforced in communities. The regulation for Perchlorate was introduced in 1998, but it's still is not regulated today. Also let’s not forget that Chromium 6 still isn’t regulated even after the blockbuster movie, Erin Brockovich, made it a household name. Public health organizations have advised EPA to act with urgency, but the regulatory process takes a very long time. If and when PFOA and PFOS become regulated, utilities will need to purchase expensive treatment equipment to reduce concentrations down to the regulated levels. This regulatory determination only applies to two chemicals but the FDA believes that there are as many as 5,000 different variations of PFAS.
We’re glad that this proposed regulatory determination has brought more national attention to PFAS. It's important that citizens understand how broad of a problem PFAS are throughout the entire country. That being said, a regulation is several years away and it's still the responsibility of consumers to protect themselves from PFAS contamination.Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
What Are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?
Military Bases Have High Levels of PFAS
PFAS: What You Need To Know
- Analies Dyjak
How Will The 2021 Proposed Fiscal Year Budget Impact Drinking Water?
Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Nerd
The release of the 2021 Fiscal Year Budget sparked a ton of concern regarding how drinking water programs are funded in the United States. The new budget proposes significant cuts to programs and grants that help to ensure safe drinking water for millions of American’s. Although jarring, we weren't surprised by the proposals because funding for drinking water programs has been a decreasing for decades.
Public Vs. Private Drinking Water
90% of U.S. drinking water is controlled by public water suppliers. Public supplies is further categorized into public water utilities and privately owned companies. Service rates are comparable for both, so oftentimes ratepayers don't have a preference. The major difference is that privately owned water companies don't rely on federal funding like public utilities do. Public utilities rely on federal and state funding to deliver safe water to residents. Additionally, private wells do not fall into either of these two categories. The federal government is not responsible for testing, monitoring, or treating private well water.
Public Funds For Water-Related Projects Have Been Decreasing For Years
According to a report by the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA), 66% of state drinking water expenses is funded by the federal government. That means that over half of the budget used by states to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) comes from the federal government. The report also claims that in recent years, state general funds for drinking water have decreased 43% nationally. So... If both pots of money are gradually getting smaller and smaller, where is the funding coming from? The short answer is that it’s not necessarily being supplemented by anywhere else, and state and local taxes/fees are not robust enough to fully support these programs.
The federal government is responsible for providing significant funding to help states implement the SDWA. Two major federal programs make up 66% of all state drinking water expenses: 41% of funds come from Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and 25% come from the Public Water System Supervision program (PWSS). The remaining 34% of funds comes from utility fees and local taxes. Public water utilities are so reliant on federal funding because regulations are enforced on a national scale. Agencies force communities to meet certain standards, so providing some sort of assistance is definitely crucial. It's almost equivalent to forcing someone to purchase a brand new car without giving them any money.
By far, the largest threat to drinking water systems are the proposed cuts to a program called Public Water System Supervision (PWSS). This programs helps states and tribes implement the National Primary Drinking Water Standards (NPDWS), and is often used for communities struggling to meet compliance. In the case of NPDWS, compliance means that a certain percent of regulated contaminants in removed from the distribution system. The regulated contaminants are those that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified as harmful to human health. In recent years, the federal budget for the PWSS program has been $101 million annually. The current proposal will cut the program by $37 million. The Association for State Drinking Water Administrators has determined that the budget needs to be upwards of $308 million in order to effetely carry out the goals of the program. Without funding from PWSS, poor communities will become exposed to harmful contaminants.
An Insufficient Proposed Budget To Tackle PFAS
Per and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAS) have been linked to various health effects, including cancer. At the beginning of 2019, EPA created the PFAS Action Plan to help address PFAS contamination on a national level. The Action Plan, although vague, will aim to develop Maximum Contaminants Levels (MCLs), groundwater remediation, and promulgate Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for various PFAS variations. According to EPA's 2021 FY budget, the agency is only requesting $6 million to achieve the PFAS Action Plan. A budget of $6 million doesn’t even begin to address remediation or compensation. Settlements across the country have been taking place to try clean up pollution and compensate individuals who have become sick as a result of contaminated drinking water. For a bit of perspective as to why $6 million isn't nearly enough... 3M and the state of Minnesota settled for $850 million, for damages regarding PFAS pollution in drinking water.
Proposed Cuts To Other Crucial Drinking Water Programs
The proposed budget reduces Human Health and Environmental Risk Assessment by 20%. HERA is a research program which supports research between environmental exposures and health impacts. It supports research projects that determine how toxic chemicals in our drinking water impact human health.
The almost 50% cut to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) will impact both large and small communities. WIFIA grants are used to help communities deliver water more efficiently, prevent droughts, implement water reuse, and update general infrastructure projects.
What Does This Mean For Your Water?
The analysis by the ASDWA concluded that the already small budget has made it extremely difficult to carry out the responsibilities of the Safe Drinking Water Act and protect the public from health impacts. The impacts will be further extrapolated if the 2021 FY Budget is implemented. However, what do these budget cuts means for you and your drinking water? The ASDWA report laid out a few critical impacts that an insufficient budget can have on a public drinking water utility:
- Constrained budget for sampling of contaminants
- Canceled or modified water-security assistance
- The use of outdated laboratory instrumentation and technologies
- Inability to meet compliance with SDWA
The indirect impacts listed above weaken a utilities ability to reliably deliver safe water to its residents. Without basic necessities, it’s difficult to be confident in the the quality of the water you’re providing to residents.
As the dust settles and federal and state governments try to figure out how to fund water utility providers, it’s important for residents to understand what’s in their drinking water and how to protect themselves from contamination. Even if you don’t purchase a filter from us, we think it’s important for people to understand what’s going on with funding for drinking water programs. We hope that to spread this information and advocate for increased funding for programs that are crucial to protecting public health.Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
How Will Changes To WOTUS Impact Your Drinking Water?
Municipal Drinking Water Compliance: What You Need To Know
What Is "Safe" Drinking Water?
- Analies Dyjak
Michigan's Fight Against PFAS
Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Nerd
The newest threat to Michigan drinking water comes just five years after lead contamination crippled the the community of Flint. Despite nation-wide coverage and support, communities in Michigan are still dealing with contaminated drinking water. A new category of emerging contaminants called Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) is now threatening a majority of the state, as public officials try to gain back trust.
Where Are PFAS Found In Michigan?
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) mapped out numerous groundwater locations where PFAS have recently been identified. Shockingly, PFAS contamination in Michigan is extremely widespread. Almost every country. It's important to keep in mind that the Michigan EGLE did not test every single groundwater site for PFAS, and that these data might not be representative of the actual scope.
Michigan Sues 17 Companies For PFAS Exposure
Numerous lawsuits, including one filed just last week, aim to hold PFAS manufacturers and producers accountable. The state of Michigan is suing 17 companies for concealing scientific information regarding the health effects of PFAS in drinking water, while continuing to produce, distribute, and improperly dispose of these toxic chemicals. Some of the more well known companies involved in the suit are 3M, DuPont, and Chemours. If you’re following this closely like us, you probably recognize these three names.
Michigan Leading The Charge In Congress
In early January the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most sweeping piece of PFAS legislation to date. The bill was sponsored by Michigan representative Debbie Dingel (D). She’s been an extraordinary advocate for PFAS legislation and regulation from EPA. The PFAS Action Act of 2019 includes important strides to protect individuals from this emerging and unregulated category of contaminant.
If this legislation passes, the following would happen:
EPA would be required to set a national standard under the National Primary Drinking Water Standards for both PFOA and PFOS.
EPA would require action under its Superfund program, also known at the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability (CERCLA) to hold responsible parties accountable for mitigation.
EPA would be required to designate all PFAS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act.
EPA would be required to authorize funding ($500 million over five years) to help municipalities across the country comply with new PFAS laws.
State Maximum Contaminant Levels
Michigan is also proposing state drinking water standards for seven different types of PFAS. These proposed levels are much more stringent than the nationally-proposed standards. For a bit of context, EPA is proposing a total combined PFAS standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). The Michigan standard would regulate seven different PFAS variations individually:
- PFNA: 6 ppt
- PFOA: 8 ppt
- PFOS: 16 ppt
- PFHxS: 51 ppt
- GenX 370 ppt
- PFBS: 420 ppt
- PFHxA: 400,000 ppt
Private Wells Are Exempt From Legislation
This isn’t anything new. Private wells are not regulated and therefore aren’t required to meet any federal or state drinking water standards. They are completely on their own to test, monitor, and remove contaminants from their drinking water. This is especially scaring for private wells users that live in areas where PFAS is known.
There’s no denying that this bill has the potential to be a huge win for communities across the country. It’s sweeping scope will force states to acknowledge a problem that’s been ignored for years. However, it’s important to point out some of the things this bill will not accomplish. Like all other National Primary Drinking Water Standards, private wells are not covered under this proposed bill. This huge oversight puts millions of Americans at risk. Homeowners that have a private well are responsible for testing, monitoring, and removing any potentially harmful contaminants from their water, whereas those on “city water” rely on the municipalities water treatment capabilities. Testing PFAS at an accredited laboratory is extremely expensive and might not be a reality for some private well users.
Removing PFAS At The Municipal Level Is Expensive
It would be shortsighted not to mention the cost of removing PFAS at the municipal level. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in Wilmington, North Carolina spent $35.9 million for PFAS removal equipment at one of their three water treatment facilities. Even with the $500 million added to a state revolving fund, the PFAS Action Act will put a serious financial burden on municipalities. This would absolutely accomplish some of what so many advocacy groups have been begging for for years: EPA’s acknowledgement that PFAS is bad and accountability for companies that produce it.Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
Hydroviv's 2020 PFAS Update
What Are Per and Polyfluroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?
Military Bases Have High Levels Of PFAS
- Analies Dyjak
Chromium 6 From Electroplating Facility In Michigan Threatens Drinking Water
Analies Ross-Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Nerd
Another environmental tragedy is threatening drinking water in a Detroit suburb. A chromium 6 spill startled commuters traveling on Interstate 696 just days before Christmas. Michigan has been dealing with polluted drinking water, including state-wide contamination from both chromium 6 and PFAS.
Images courtesy of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
What Happened In Madison Heights, Michigan?
Lime-green sludge spilled over onto Interstate 696 in Michigan just days before Christmas. The source of the pollution was a closed electroplating facility in Madison Heights, Michigan. The owner of Electro Plating Services is currently serving a year in federal prison for improperly disposing various toxic contaminants including chromium 6, trichloroethylene (TCE), and cyanide. A dug pit was also identified on the property. The owner had apparently been illegally disposing of the effluent for years, resulting in an extremely unsightly pit of chemicals. After the operation closed in 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (formerly known as Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) allegedly removed the contents in the facility but failed to remediate the surrounding soil and groundwater. In the initial remedial efforts in 2017, EPA found 37,000 gallons of chromium 6-contaminated water in the basement of the facility.
What Is Chromium 6?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has determined that chromium 6 causes "clear carcinogenic effects" and that it should be classified as likely to be a human carcinogen through ingestion of drinking water. Chromium 6 is used in various industrial processes including metal plating, steel production, leather tanning, textile manufacturing, and electroplating. Discharge from any number of these industries can cause chromium 6 to flow through surface or groundwater and enter a drinking water source. Chromium 6 is still not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 20 years later after the 2000 blockbuster movie starring Julia Roberts brought national attention to this human carcinogen, the federal government has yet to set an “allowable level” in drinking water.
As we’ve been watching this disaster slowly unfold, we’ve seen numerous instances of false information regarding chromium 6 and the spill. For example, some news agencies have made false statements claiming that chromium 6 is not dangerous when ingested through drinking water, and that it’s only toxic to humans through inhalation or dermal contact. NIH and other public health organizations have determined that it is in fact carcinogenic to humans. Additionally, the state of California tried to set a state Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 20 parts per trillion in drinking water, confirming its toxicity to humans. A second news source claimed that if chromium 6 from the spill made its way to Lake St. Clair, the levels would be “well below the standard.” As previously stated, there is no federal or state standard for chromium 6.
We cannot rely only on environmental regulations alone to protect us from hazards. In this case, post-production remedial efforts by the EPA and Michigan EGLE failed miserably.
The owner of the facility most likely had no other choice but to dump pollution into a pit because proper handling and disposal of chromium 6 is expensive. Incentives for proper disposal serve the best interest for workers and the public.
People who rely on private wells for drinking water should pay close attention to this incident. Private wells are not regulated by the federal government and do not need to comply with National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The basic analysis that most private wells undergo only tests for 5 or 6 contaminants, most of which are biological and certainly nothing that isn't regulated.
Consumers need to be responsible for protecting their families from environmental exposures.
Chromium 6 In Drinking Water: Background, Exposure, Toxicology
How To Filter Chromium 6 From Drinking Water
Chromium 6 Spilled Into Lake Michigan: What You Need To Know
- Analies Dyjak
Hydroviv's 2020 PFAS Update
*Updated 1/22/20 to include EWG map*
Analies Dyjak, M.A. | Policy Nerd
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently updated its map of PFAS effected communities, which includes an extensive list of new cities. Residents, city and state officials, and the federal government are working to figure out how to respond. We wanted to provide an update as to what’s going on with PFAS contamination in the nation's drinking water.
What Are PFAS And Why Are They Dangerous?
Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants and are both mobile and persistent in the environment. PFAS are found in a variety of products including Scotchguard, Teflon, firefighting foam, metal plating, heat and water repellent products, and stain resistant fabrics. Health effects associated with PFAS contaminated drinking water are becoming more widely accepted throughout regulatory bodies. According to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, PFAS are associated with a long list of health effects including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, increased cholesterol, and developmental issues in young children and infants.
PFAS Action Act of 2019
At the beginning of January, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the most sweeping piece of PFAS legislation to date. The PFAS Action Act of 2019 is sponsored by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich). The bill is currently making its way through the legislative process and waiting on a senate vote.
If this legislation passes, the following would happen:
- EPA would be required to set a national standard under the National Primary Drinking Water Standards for both PFOA and PFOS.
- EPA would require action under its Superfund program, also known at the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability (CERCLA) to hold responsible parties accountable for mitigation.
- EPA would be required to designate all PFAS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act.
- EPA would be required to authorize funding ($500 million over five years) to help municipalities across the country comply with new PFAS laws.
How Will The PFAS Action Act Impact My Community?
There is no denying that this bill has the potential to be a huge win for communities across the country. It’s sweeping scope will force states to acknowledge a problem that has been ignored for years. However, it is important to point out some of the things this bill will not accomplish. Like all other National Primary Drinking Water Standards, private wells are not covered under this proposed bill. This major oversight puts millions of Americans at risk. Homeowners who drink from private wells are responsible for testing, monitoring, and removing any potentially harmful contaminants from their water, whereas those on city water rely on their municipalities' water treatment capabilities.
Then there is the cost of removing PFAS at the municipal level. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in Wilmington, North Carolina spent $35.9 million for PFAS removal equipment at one of their three water treatment facilities. Even with the $500 million added to a state-revolving fund, the PFAS Action Act would place a serious financial burden on municipalities.
Key Players: Department of Defense
The Department of Defense is also leading the charge to address PFAS, which might be surprising considering they have played a large role in contributing to the problem. PFAS are a key ingredient in firefighting foam which is often used for training purposes on military bases. Many bases do not rely on the public system for drinking water, but rather have their own dug wells for military families. DoD has created an inventory of bases and wells show levels of PFAS. As of August 2017, DoD identified 401 military installments that are suspected to have released PFAS. That being said, DoD has spent $200 million on investigating and mitigating these releases since the contamination has became public.
The National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the annual military budget for 2020, prohibits the Department of Defense from using PFAS-containing firefighting foam starting October 1, 2022. DoD is also funding research to come up with an alternative to PFAS. The twist, however, is military bases are not required to comply with federal and state drinking water standards. Even if a federal regulation were to be set, it would be under the discretion of DoD to determine how to proceed.
PFAS Update: Is A Regulation Coming?
Possibly. It typically takes decades for EPA to regulate a contaminant under the National Primary Drinking Water Standards. For example, Chromium 6 still remains unregulated after decades spent in the regulatory funnel. Additionally, Chromium 6 was highlighted in the 2000 blockbuster film Erin Brockovich, starring Julie Roberts. Despite widespread attention on these contaminants, drinking water regulations take such a long time in part due to push back from chemical manufacturers and industry who produce these types of toxic contaminants. In 2018, EPA set a non-enforceable health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. An important caveat is public health goals, guidance levels, and health advisory levels are all non-enforceable, and therefore municipal water systems do not need to comply. That being said, a regulation submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was recently sent back to the Environmental Protection Agency for revisions, or to be published in the Federal Register.
States Leading the Charge
In 2019, several states in the U.S. stepped up to tackle PFAS head on. Because there is no federal consensus on what the standard should be, it is at the discretion of states to determine an acceptable level in drinking water. States run into similar obstacles as the federal government when setting standards. It is important to remember that as of now right now, most state standards are non-enforceable public health goals or advisory levels. Minnesota in particular has done a great job paving the way for other states. In 2018 Minnesota settled with 3M, a major manufacturer of PFAS in an $850 million lawsuit.
The bottom line is removing PFAS at the municipal level is expensive. Even if these regulations were enacted, communities would need to solve the problem of purchasing multi-million dollar equipment. Financial roadblocks are just one of the hurdles that EPA needs to overcome when developing a benefit-cost analysis: For example, do the benefits associated with regulating PFAS outweigh the costs? This factor is heavily examined when a regulation is being considered.
The current arsenic standard is the best example of this. EPA scientists agreed on establishing the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) as 3 parts per billion for arsenic in drinking water, which is consistent with public health recommendations. Ultimately the agency settled on the current level of 10 parts per billion because they could not justify the cost of removing arsenic at the municipal level with the health benefits.
Only a handful of communities have been able to purchase this type of expensive equipment. For example, the public utility for Wilmington, North Carolina purchased a $46 million Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration system. This type of investment is not viable for most communities in the United States.Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
What Are Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances?
Military Bases Have High Levels of PFAS
EPA Admits GenX Linked To Cancer
- Analies Dyjak