Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published regulations for six PFAS chemicals, it’s important for water well owners to understand how their water systems can be impacted. Although the new PFAS regulations are for public water systems, this is a great opportunity to learn more about PFAS and water well testing.

PFAS refer to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals that have been used in a wide range of items since the 1940s. These chemicals are problematic due to their long half-lives, meaning they can accumulate in the environment and our bodies. Given the widespread use of these chemicals, most Americans have had some level of exposure, whether it be through drinking water, use of consumer products, food, inhalation, or working in manufacturing facilities that use PFAS chemicals. 

Why and how do I test my well for PFAS?

As a private well owner, you want to be certain your drinking water is safe for you and your family! Testing for PFAS is one of many reasons to test your water annually. Many recommendations exist for sampling and testing PFAS. The EPA has summarized its recommendations on its website. Your county or town health departments may also have info on PFAS sampling and locating a laboratory certified to test water.

What do my results mean?

PFAS are measured in “ng/L”: These are nanograms per liter, a very small number.  One ng/L is like one drop of water in 13 million gallons of water. How many ng/L are safe? The answer is, we really don’t know! This is why different states have different recommendations. 

How can I remove PFAS from my water?

There are simple, proven technologies for removing PFAS from your home’s water supply. Water treatment technologies have been around for years, and include activated carbon, anion exchange resins, and reverse osmosis membranes. You may already have a treatment system in place for other water conditioning that can address PFAS with a different maintenance schedule.

Water treatment systems come in all shapes and sizes, but the most important part of your decision is looking for third-party product certification. That certification provides a level of confidence that your purchase will provide the protection you need. Third-party product certifiers will test to NSF/ANSI 53 or NSF/ANSI 58 for PFAS, PFOA, and PFOS reduction. Look for those classes of certification on the products you’re researching.

Also use a certified water treatment professional for application, installation, and maintenance of your treatment system. This is an important level of protection that assures your treatment system will be installed properly. You can find a certified water treatment professional in your area using our Find-A-Contractor tool.

More information on PFAS is available on your state and county websites, as well as from the EPA and NGWA