PFAS contamination is a growing concern across the United States. In response, many people have been wondering whether boiling their drinking water will remove PFAS from the water. The answer to this question is no!
Boiling your drinking water does not reduce the levels of PFAS in the water. In fact, boiling contaminated water may actually increase the concentration because of evaporation making it more toxic. You can treat PFAS contaminated water using activated carbon, reverse osmosis, or ion exchange resins
To learn more about how you can protect yourself from PFAS contamination in your drinking water, read on for an explanation of what it is and how to protect your family.
Does Boiling Water Remove PFAS
PFAS cannot be boiled out of water. The physical and chemical properties of PFAS make it resistant to boiling.
People are often confused because some contaminants – like bacteria or volatile organic compounds – can be made safe by boiling water. However, this is not the case with PFAS.
Boiling water contaminated with bacteria makes it safe to drink, because the high temperature kills the germs.
You might think that boiling PFAS would destroy these molecules or make them inert. However, these chemicals are very resistant to heat. This is why Teflon is used as a non-stick coating on frying pans. It doesn’t break down, even after hours of use at high temperatures.
If your water is polluted with a VOC like gasoline, you can remove the contaminants by by boiling the water. As the water is heated, the gasoline rapidly evaporates – this happens because gasoline is volatile. A few minutes of boiling will drive the contaminants completely out of the water.
Unfortunately, PFAS compounds are not volatile, so they don’t evaporate out of the water. They remain dissolved in the water, no matter how long you boil it or how high you raise the temperature.
To make matters worse, when you boil water, some of it evaporates. This concentrates the PFAS which makes the water even more toxic.
Do not boil your PFAS-contaminated water believing it is safe to drink.
Does boiling reduce the PFAS concentration
The Rhode Island Department of Health recently issued a health advisory warning citizens whose water supply had been contaminated with PFAS not to boil their water.
You cannot remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances by boiling the water. Doing so will only cause them to become concentrated, making it even more dangerous to drink the water.
The problem with PFAS is they are very stable molecules. Heat does not break down these harmful chemicals.
Does freezing my water remove PFAS
Freezing water does not remove PFAS. This method can’t be used to purify PFAS-contaminated water.
The only way to get rid of these toxins is with a high-quality water filter.
How Do I know if I Have PFAS in My Drinking Water?
Fortunately, you can test your water to find out if it contains PFAS. There are several DIY test kits that allow you to test your drinking water. Read my article for a detailed discussion on how to test your water for PFAS.
SimpleLab Test Kit
You can now test for 14 different PFAS compounds with the SimpleLab at-home kit. It’s easy to use and includes everything you need. They provide a comprehensive report that explains what the results mean and whether you should be concerned about your family’s health.
What Should I Do if I Have PFAS in my Drinking Water
If you discover that your drinking water is contaminated with PFAS, you should take measures to protect yourself and your family. The most important thing is to stop drinking the polluted water and find a clean supply of water.
- DO NOT boil tap water. Chemical compounds will be concentrated as a result of boiling water.
- Reduce your risk of exposure to these pollutants by drinking bottled water or another source of pure water.
- Locate a safe source of water for drinking, food preparation and cooking. Use this pure water to brush your teeth and any other activity that might result in swallowing water.
- If you have an infant who is fed formula, look for an alternative that does not require adding water.
You can also use bottled or filtered water to make infant formula. You will need to find a new source of clean drinking water for your baby’s bottle if you notice PFAS contamination in your tap water.
It is important that everyone avoid ingesting contaminated water as much as possible, especially those who may be most vulnerable. This includes infants, pregnant or nursing mothers, and the elderly.
Read our article about potential PFAS contamination in bottled water.
What is PFAS?
PFAS is a group of chemicals that have been used for many years by industry. These chemicals resist heat, water and oil – making them useful as an additive in some products to provide those qualities.
They are one of the most widely used class of chemicals in the world. PFAS compounds are found in many consumer products, including food packaging and fabric coatings.
What are the health concerns of PFAS?
These chemicals are known, or suspected, to cause serious health outcomes for people.
Some studies have shown links between exposure to these chemicals and cancer, hormone disruption, developmental effects on fetuses during pregnancy or lowered immune response in children.
How Does PFAS get into Drinking Water
In an alarming finding, it was discovered that some of the most common chemicals found in our water supply have been contaminating drinking sources for years. PFAS is no exception and can get into rivers through runoff from industrial factories or spills along their path. Once released, these chemicals contaminate lakes, rivers, and nearby groundwater – the sources of our drinking water.
The release of PFAS chemicals into the air may find its way into drinking water sources as well.
These persistent materials do not break down easily so even after an extended period of time has passed there will usually still be trace amounts present.
PFAS can enter a drinking water source in several ways – the most common of which is through surface water runoff.
The chemicals will also be present in groundwater that has been affected by nearby sources of pollution, such as industrial waste or chemical spills from factories and manufacturing plants.
In addition to this, PFAS may contaminate our drinking water by way of air pollution.
The most common sources are industrial factories that use these chemicals or fire-fighting training exercises at airports with the PFAS chemical in their fires.
How Do I Remove PFAS from Drinking Water
There are a few water treatment technologies that may be applied to remove PFAS from drinking water. For residential applications, it is common to use either point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) treatment devices.
The technologies that work well for PFAS treatment include:
- Activated carbon: The activated carbon treatment removes harmful chemicals and other contaminants from drinking water through a process called adsorption. PFAS molecules are trapped on the carbon surface and removed from the water stream.
- Ion exchange resins: Ion exchange treatment is a simple and effective way to get rid of PFAS in your drinking water. These treatments use an ionic material, which attracts negatively charged PFAS molecules, trapping them on the resin.
- Reverse osmosis: Reverse osmosis is a process that uses high pressure to filter water and remove any contaminants. This technology is 90% effective at lowering PFAS levels in your drinking supply. Read my detailed discussion on removing PFAS with reverse osmosis.
What Levels of PFAS Are Safe to Drink
There is no national drinking water standard for PFAS. This makes it very difficult to know how much PFAS you can safely consume.
The EPA has set the advisory level for PFOA and PFOS at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). This level is based on a lifetime exposure to PFAS contaminated water.
Some health experts suggest that no level of PFAS in drinking water is safe. They recommend a drinking water standard of 1 part per trillion.
Is it safe to drink boiled PFAS contaminated water?
No, drinking the water will increase your risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious health problems. Boiling does not remove these toxic compounds from the drinking supply.
The only way to make sure you are drinking clean, pure water is by using a high-quality water filter. Boiling your water does not remove lead, either.
What is the best way to remove PFAS from drinking water?
The only way to get rid of these contaminants is with a top-quality filtration system that uses reverse osmosis or activated carbon technology. These systems use special filters and membrane which capture harmful pollutants and remove them from the water.
The most effective way to remove PFAS from drinking water is with a reverse osmosis system. This type of system works very well and can reduce the PFAS concentration to below detectable levels.
Can I test my tap water for PFAS?
There are several ways of testing your drinking water for PFAS. Some laboratories have sampling kits developed specially for homeowners. You fill the jars with tap water and mail the sample to the laboratory. Within a few weeks, you’ll receive a test report with your results. Read my comprehensive review of PFAS testing options for drinking water.
If you decide to do this, make sure the testing laboratory is certified and has an excellent reputation for accuracy.
You can also contact your local Board of Health to see if they can sample your water. Some agencies provide this service, but you may need to pay a small fee.
Do Brita filters and other pitcher filters remove PFAS?
Brita filters are not suitable for treating drinking water contaminated with PFAS. Read our article on Brita filters for a detailed discussion of pitcher filters.