A recent study found that nearly half of America's tap water may contain dangerous forever chemicals.
These chemicals, also known as PFAS, continue to exist in water that has been through the standard treatment process. As such, there's a high likelihood that you've ingested some of these chemicals without knowing it.
If you live in Arizona, you may wonder where your state stands in terms of water quality. After all, each region has its own challenges in keeping its water clean and free of toxins.
Here's what you need to know about Arizona water quality and why PFAS are so dangerous.
As it turns out, Arizona's water quality lies somewhere in the bottom when compared to the other 50 states. J.D. Power placed it at 9th worst in the country according to customers' feedback. This ranking is due to a few different factors, including contaminants in the water supply as well as water hardness.
A high level of nitrates is one area that Arizona struggles with. These are common in areas with more agricultural properties. High levels of nitrates in the body can cause negative reactions such as methemoglobinemia.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals you'll also see in the water supply. These come from things such as food packaging, firefighting foam, and other consumer products and industrial processes. PFOS and PFOA are also included in this group. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used in non-stick and stain-resistant products. The same applies to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). They dissolve in water and are able to avoid most water treatment technologies. PFAS persist in the environment and can be found in drinking water of all kinds, including surface water and groundwater.
Test results show that Arizona has particularly hard water, due to the high mineral content in its soil. Hard water can cause scale buildup on plumbing fixtures, fade clothes, and cause damage to your pipes. It can also affect how your water tastes.
Most people deal with hard water without any concern. However, higher hardness levels can also affect things like how you feel after a shower and how your dishes look after they're cleaned.
The good thing is that water hardness has no significant effect on your health. It's more of a nuisance that you can manage with some minor investment.
So what makes exposure to PFAS a public health concern if they're already in a majority of the US's water supply?
First of all, it's important to understand that PFAS is a group of nearly 15,000 synthetic chemicals. It's not just one byproduct you need to be aware of.
As far as how they can affect you, it depends. Since there is such a diverse set of chemicals that count as PFAS, they can affect you in a number of different ways. It also varies based on the PFA concentrations in your water supply.
PFAs contaminated water can alter immune and thyroid function, cause liver disease, and affect reproductive and developmental outcomes. They can even cause cancer if ingested in high amounts.
Of course, the United States government wouldn't let you drink this water if it had high enough levels of PFAS to prove immediately harmful. However, extended consumption of these chemicals may increase the likelihood of developing health problems later in life.
Regardless of how well your city or state does in treating your water, there are ways to improve your water quality at home. These purification methods are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and are available for both residential and commercial applications.
This type of treatment works by adsorbing natural organic compounds as well as synthetic organic chemicals. These foreign compounds and chemicals stick to the charcoal so that they can be caught by a filter. You can see this process in action with things like filtered pitchers or even faucet filters.
Activated carbon treatment works well for longer-chain PFAS but not shorter ones. However, your filtration system would also need some way to dispose of the byproduct created by this process.
Ion exchange treatment involves highly porous material made from hydrocarbons. These resins are either positively or negatively charged. Negatively charged ones attract positively charged contaminants, and vice versa.
This process is primarily used for water softening. Most of the material pulled out of your water will be the mineral content that would otherwise make your water hard. However, it's also efficient at removing acidic PFAS.
The only problem with this type of system is that it can be expensive. If you have one installed at your home, you'll need to regularly refill the salt tank for it to keep working.
As a result, your softened water may have a higher sodium content depending on the amount of hard water removed.
Reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to make your water as clean as possible. This process involves using high-pressure membranes that filter out contaminants like sediment, chemicals, heavy metals, and even bacteria and viruses.
In this system, your water will pass through multiple filters. Each one captures smaller particulates until it hits the reverse osmosis membrane. This synthetic lining allows only water molecules to pass through. From here you can add steps, including carbon filtration, to enhance the water quality.
This technology is best suited at the point of use for homeowners, as the waste stream can be disposed of with ease.
The Water Quality Division and the Arizona Department of Water Resources do their best to manage and improve the water flowing into homes across the state. However, forever chemicals are difficult to get rid of, even with industrial-level water filtration systems. It doesn't help that there's currently no way to treat the problem at the source.
Parker & Sons can help upgrade your home's water system so you can get access to the best Arizona water quality possible. As a trusted name in the business for almost 50 years, we know the ins and outs of clean water. Our services cover plumbing, water supplies, sewage, and more. Contact us if you're interested in learning more about how we can help you.