Don't Drink The Water...

We've Been Dumping "Forever Chemicals" In Our Water For Decades. It's Time To Clean It Up

Written by
The Part Works
Published on
February 20, 2024 at 4:43:00 PM PST February 20, 2024 at 4:43:00 PM PSTth, February 20, 2024 at 4:43:00 PM PST

The Promise of Plastics

The 1940’s, 50s and 60s were an era of grand opportunity.  New technology, which was funded by the war efforts of the previous generation, led to the creation of new businesses that manufactured and sold the new tech.

Plastics in particular revolutionized manufacturing with their seemingly endless configurability. One specific flavor known as PFAS (Per- and PolyFluoroAlkyl Substances) offered unique use case opportunities, one version could be added to clothing to make it waterproof. Another fluorinated alkyl chemical was added to pans to make them non-stick. A further PFAS was a primary chemical in fire retardant foam, often used at airports on a regular basis in training for emergencies. 

The Dark Side

PFAS pose a serious problem as they do not naturally degrade. These chemicals tend to accumulate in the body, and high levels of PFAS are known to cause numerous types of cancers such as kidney, thyroid, and testicular. Additionally, they are known to cause increased cholesterol, reduced vaccine response in children, liver enzyme changes, hypertension, preeclampsia in pregnant women, and low birth weight. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has a dedicated page on PFAS that further discusses their harmful effects.

Better known as “forever chemicals” PFAS can leach into food supplies via plastic packaging. Even earlier, via the plastic bottles we store pest control chemicals in, PFAS can be sprayed onto the food itself. Worst of all, being water soluble they can leach into the groundwater, infiltrating our drinking water, from something as unassuming as practicing for emergencies at airports. In Spokane Washington, that exact scenario seems to have happened, as reported in The Seattle Times. With regular firefighting drills at both Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane International Airport less than 10 miles from the City of Spokane, the threat looms large. The EPA recognizes 70 parts per trillion in water as a safe level of PFAS for human consumption. Already, rural wells in the area are astronomically outside of accepted standards. At Fairchild AFB there is a well still testing at 182,000 parts per trillion.

In another story reported in Newsweek, a town in Maine dug a well in an extremely remote area, sure that it would provide clean water. Upon reaching the water table, they discovered that a farmer, decades earlier, had fertilized his farm with supplements that contained PFAS. They were left with the choice to either abandon the well as sunk cost or spend 50% of their annual capital expense budget ($1.6 million) on a PFAS filtration system. Extrapolate that out, and the estimated cost of PFAS remediation is anywhere from $772 million to $3.8 billion annually in the U.S. Per a U.S. Geological Survey published in July 2023, it is estimated that roughly half of the U.S. tap water is tainted with some level of PFAS. 

The Long Road Out

We didn’t create this ecological disaster overnight and we won’t find our way out of it quickly either. But there is hope. While some are attacking the problem at the source, others are finding the point of use much more accessible. Xylem, for example, is a municipal caliber water filtration systems provider. At the

other end of the spectrum, Zurn Elkay has recently released the 71300C filter for its water fountain and bottle filling station, essentially offering a retrofit of existing equipment at a much lower price point than the municipal level filter. 

The EPA continues work on their proposed drinking water standards, with no finalization or implementation dates in site. Municipal solutions such as Xylem continue to cut red tape in the push for municipal solutions. Meanwhile, The Part Works is a stocking distributor of the new 71300C Filters, along with the rest of the Elkay line. Providing the most readily accessible solution, on the shelf and ready to order now.

In addition to the 71300C filter, The Part Works also carries the new Elkay Retrofit EZ Filter Maintenance Kit, affording much easier filter maintenance access. Other Elkay filter options include the 51300C and the 51600C offering lead filtration up to 3000 gallons and 6000 gallons respectively. For reference, the difference between a lead filter is that it measures in parts per billion, where a PFAS rated filter measures in parts per trillion.

As members of the community The Part Works is passionate about clean, safe drinking water and Elkay filters offer an immediately available solutions for not just PFAS and lead but for Cysts, Chlorine, Sediment and Particulate as well.

If PFAS is a rising concern in your schools, hospitals, or office building, we can help.