Water Research Foundation study addresses methods for removing PFOS/PFOA from water, wastewater
The research report contains results of an in-depth treatment study conducted on waters from 13 water and wastewater treatment plants in the United States.
DENVER, CO, May 20, 2016 -- The Water Research Foundation (WRF), a leading sponsor of research supporting the water community, has released findings of a study addressing effective methods for removing poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) from water and wastewater. The research report, Treatment Mitigation Strategies for Poly- and Perfluorinated Chemicals (WRF project #4322), contains results of an in-depth treatment study conducted on waters from 13 water and wastewater treatment plants in the United States. Additionally, WRF will be hosting a Webcast on June 2 addressing the project’s results and has posted a State of the Science document on PFASs.
The research from project #4322 demonstrated that conventional treatment at wastewater treatment plants and most drinking water treatment plants is ineffective at removing PFASs. Activated carbon and anion exchange can remove many PFASs but are less effective at removing shorter chain PFASs. The most effective treatment technologies are nanofiltration and reverse osmosis, which work even for the smallest PFASs studied.
The EPA issued two public health advisories yesterday for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), each at 70 parts per trillion. EPA's assessment indicates that drinking water with individual or combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS below 70 parts per trillion is not expected to result in adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure.
"The research results from project #4322 will help the water community understand the best options for removing PFASs from water and wastewater," said Rob Renner, CEO of the Water Research Foundation. "This knowledge is especially important as the EPA continues the process of regulating these chemicals in water."
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a group of manmade chemicals with past and current uses in industrial processes and consumer products. PFASs are also commonly referred to as perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs. The most notable PFASs are PFOA and PFOS, but there are many others. PFASs are used in firefighting foams, coating for food packaging, ScotchGardTM and TeflonTM, among other products.
Exposure to PFASs can occur through use of products or consumption of food or water containing PFASs. PFASs do not break down easily and therefore persist in the environment. They are also soluble in water and can enter source waters through industrial releases, discharges from wastewater treatment plants, storm water runoff, release of firefighting foams, and land application of contaminated biosolids.
PFASs are a concern because they have been shown to have health effects in animal studies. Data from some human studies suggest that PFASs also affect human health. Additional research is ongoing in order to gain a better understanding of human health effects.
Project #4322 was prepared by Eric Dickenson, PhD, from Southern Nevada Water Authority and Chris Higgins, PhD, from Colorado School of Mines.
About the Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation is the leading not-for-profit research cooperative that advances the science of water to protect public health and the environment. Governed by utilities, WRF plans, manages, and delivers scientifically sound research solutions on the most critical challenges facing the water community in the areas of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse. Over the last 50 years, WRF has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects valued at $500 million, and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to www.WaterRF.org.