Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of over 4,000 human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. These chemicals are very persistent in the environment and the human body, which has raised health concerns. Two of the most studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
In recent years, PFAS contamination has become an issue in Tampa Bay area drinking water. PFAS enter the environment through industrial discharge and leach from products like firefighting foam, fast food wrappers, and stain-resistant fabrics. They then make their way into surface and groundwater that supplies drinking water.
Exposure to certain PFAS may lead to developmental effects in fetuses and infants, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer (source). The EPA lifetime drinking water health advisory for PFOA and PFOS is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) combined. However, some scientists believe much lower levels are unsafe.
Evaluating PFAS Levels in Tampa Bay Drinking Water
Several water systems in the greater Tampa Bay region have found PFAS contamination exceeding the EPA advisory level. For example:
The Picnic Island membrane plant in Tampa had PFOS levels up to 180 ppt in finished water in 2019. This plant provides drinking water to thousands of residents.
Groundwater monitoring wells near Port Redwing found PFOA levels over 900 ppt in 2014. Nearby private wells may be contaminated.
It's possible many other water sources are contaminated but have not been tested. Homes relying on private wells are especially vulnerable since they are unregulated. Concerned Tampa Bay residents should test their water to check for PFAS.
Water Treatment Solutions for Removing PFAS
The most effective treatment options for removing PFAS include granular activated carbon (GAC) filters, reverse osmosis (RO) systems, anion exchange, and electrocoagulation. Here's how Tampa Bay residents can install systems to remove PFAS from their water:
Reverse Osmosis Systems
AquaRevive Reverse Osmosis System uses a multi-stage process to remove total dissolved solids (TDS), PFAS, sodium, bacteria and other impurities. Pre-filters protect the RO membrane which filters out contaminants. An activated carbon post-filter removes tastes and odors. AquaRevive systems can be installed under kitchen sinks to provide 5-8 gallons per day of clean, refreshing drinking and cooking water.
Private Well Treatment
Residents relying on private wells for drinking water are at high risk for PFAS exposure. WellFusion Well Water Treatment Systems use a combination of filtration methods to remove harmful contaminants from wells, including GAC, particle filtration, UV disinfection and water softening. WellFusion systems provide whole house treatment without the need to dig a new well.
Commercial and Industrial Water Treatment
Businesses requiring high-volume water treatment can install advanced systems like HydroTech Pro Commercial Water Treatment Systems. These commercial-grade systems combine multiple treatment processes into a packaged plant. Treatment methods include GAC, ion exchange, ozone oxidation, ultrafiltration, chlorine disinfection and more. HydroTech Pro systems can treat hundreds to millions of gallons per day to strict quality standards.
AquaPurity Industrial & Commercial RO Systems provide high-purity water for industrial processes, laboratory use, food and beverage production and pharmaceutical manufacturing. By removing up to 99% of all dissolved contaminants, RO treated water meets strict quality guidelines for sensitive applications.
Protecting Tampa Bay's Water Resources
Tampa Bay relies on pristine natural water resources like the Floridan Aquifer to supply clean drinking water. Unfortunately increasing urbanization and industrialization has led to contaminants infiltrating natural groundwater. Strict regulations, responsible chemical use and advanced treatment solutions can help protect Tampa's precious aquifers.
Household water contamination also impacts the greater watershed. Properly treated greywater from sinks, showers and washing machines can be safely reused for irrigation rather than sent to sewers or septic systems where PFAS eventually reach surface waters. Simple steps like fixing leaks, choosing non-toxic household products and disposing hazardous chemicals properly keeps pollution out of Tampa Bay.
Health Effects of PFAS Exposure
According to the CDC's ATSDR, human and animal studies link PFAS exposure to harmful effects on growth, learning and behavior, reproductive health, thyroid function, liver function and immunotoxicity.
Some PFAS remain in the human body and environment for many years. The impact to human health continues to be an active area of study. For vulnerable populations, using a high-quality drinking water filtration system can help minimize risks. Read more on the effects of water contaminants in our article Health Effects of Hard Water and Contaminants on Personal Care.
Call to Action
Homeowners concerned about potential PFAS or other emerging water contaminants in their supply should act now to test and treat their drinking water.
Schedule Your FREE Water Test Today: 727-236-7161 to check for PFAS, lead, bacteria, nitrates, sodium and other contaminants. Aqua-Wise water treatment experts will evaluate your water test results and recommend affordable solutions to remove unhealthy contaminants through filtration and purification. Custom whole house and point-of-use systems are available along with financing options. Protect your home today from the risk of PFAS water contamination.