All You Need to Know About PFAS in Your Water – How to Find Safe Brands and Products
Amongst some of the doom-and-gloom of modern life, it seems that the general public is at least becoming more conscious of their health. In fact, according to a recent poll of 2,000 adults, over 70% of Americans claim to be more health-conscious now than prior to the pandemic.
Alongside paying closer attention to their diets and ensuring they’re getting enough exercise to keep fit and healthy, studies suggest that the American public is also making concerted efforts to drink more water. Given the wealth of data clearly illustrating the benefits of good hydration, this can only be a good thing, right? Well, unfortunately, things aren’t that simple!
Of course, the more people that focus on hydration, the healthier our societies become. Still, recent reports have found a hidden danger lurking in some water products that people must be made aware of. To help consumers make informed decisions on their path to a healthier lifestyle, this comprehensive guide will cover all you need to know about PFAS in your water.
Read on to learn how to find safe water brands and products free from forever chemicals.
What Are PFAS Chemicals?
PFAS (per-or polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a collection of man-made chemicals that have been used in the production of consumer products for almost 100 years. As these chemicals are made from strongly bonded carbon and fluorine molecules, they’re notoriously difficult to break apart, leading to their use in the production of water-resistant products and packaging.
However, this same distinction means PFAS are unable to decay naturally once released into the environment, which is why they’re often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’. PFAS are becoming increasingly problematic across the globe as more studies reveal their presence in natural environments, with shocking amounts of PFAS often found in our land, air, and water.
Why Are PFAS Concerning?
Experts have raised concerns regarding the levels of PFAS found in the food chain. As these chemicals do not decay naturally, once they enter a person’s body via the eating or drinking of contaminated products, they can quickly accumulate, contributing to serious health issues.
The presence of PFAS in a person’s blood has been linked to numerous significant health problems, including (but not limited to):
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Liver and kidney damage
- Immune system dysfunction
To make matters worse, there are currently no known ways to categorically remove PFAS from a person’s body outside of regular blood and plasma donations. Consequently, the best way to avoid the negative effects of ‘forever chemicals’ is to tackle the source of exposure.
How Common Are PFAs in Bottled Water?
The general public has had a turbulent relationship with bottled water products for a number of years. Though access to clean bottled water (in most cases) should be seen as positive, fair arguments have been raised regarding several key aspects of bottled water production, including carbon waste, sustainability, ethical sourcing, and plastics leaching from packaging.
Some of these problems have been addressed by environmentally conscious companies. Sustainability-focused brands like JUST Water remove the risk of plastic leaching and ensure their products are recyclable by producing boxed and aluminum canned water whilst also committing to the ethical sourcing of spring water; still, far too many popular brands are sticking with bad practices.
A 2021 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that out of over 100 bottled water brands tested, 39 were found to contain PFAS, with some of these products containing levels of toxic chemicals considered ‘concerning’ by experts. What’s more is that some of the products tested were labeled as ‘purified’, despite the presence of PFAS and microplastics.
Though the aforementioned study did not mention the names of the brands they assessed, some information about the types of bottled water most likely to be affected was released. Overall, waters filtered using reverse osmosis were found to contain lower levels of PFAS than those filtered using other methods, but consumers deserve more precise information.
How to Find Safe Water Brands and Products
Thankfully, Consumer Reports conducted a study in 2020 testing 47 commercially available bottled waters for the presence of heavy metals and PFAs, choosing to name the companies involved. The findings of this research are assessed below, but first, it’s important to cover how PFAS levels are measured, alongside the amount of PFAS considered ‘safe’ by experts.
While voluntary guidance published by the federal government claims PFAS levels below 70 parts per trillion are considered ‘safe’, several states have set lower limits of between 12-20 ppt. Furthermore, the International Bottled Water Association claims limits should be set at 5 ppt for any single PFAS compound and 10 ppt for multiple PFAS chemicals. Some experts even claim a cutoff of 1 ppt should be introduced, according to the Consumer Reports study.
With this in mind, the aforementioned study found 9 brands to be producing bottled water products containing PFAS levels over 1 part per trillion, including:
- Tourmaline Spring – Sacred Living Water – 4.64 ppt
- Deer Park – Natural Spring Water – 1.21 ppt
- Topo Chico – Natural Mineral Water – 9.76 ppt
- Polar – Natural Seltzer Water – 6.41 ppt
- Bubly – Blackberry Sparkling Water – 2.24 ppt
- Poland Spring – Zesty Lime Sparkling Water – 1.66 ppt
- Canada Dry – Lemon Lime Sparkling Seltzer Water – 1.24 ppt
- La Croix – Natural Sparkling Water – 1.16 ppt
- Perrier – Natural Sparkling Mineral Water – 1.1 ppt
As observed, sparkling water products are more likely to contain high levels of PFAS than non-carbonated products, though still and spring waters are not always free from potentially harmful chemicals and substances. It’s important to note that some bottled waters tested did contain low or even no detectable levels of PFAS, a selection of which are included below:
- Arrowhead – Natural Spring Water – non detected
- Boxed Water Is Better – Water – non detected
- Spindrift – Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water – 0.19 ppt
- San Pellegrino – Natural Sparkling Mineral Water – 0.31 ppt
Though this study did test a wide range of popular bottled water brands from across the US, there are plenty of additional companies that also produce packaged water products with low-no PFAS. For example, according to a third-party study, all JUST Water ‘Bubbles’ and 22oz products contain non detected (zero) levels of PFAS, so it’s important to conduct some research into ethical and transparent brands to find those committed to PFAS-free products.
While it’s great that more people are turning towards healthier choices and a more active lifestyle in the wake of recent world events, the public must be provided the opportunity to source health products free from hidden dangers. PFAS are quickly becoming a pressing concern, so it’s essential people learn how to avoid potentially harmful consumer products.
Research shows that some bottled waters are safer than others, with non-carbonated waters and those filtered via reverse osmosis typically posing less of a risk. However, consumers must be committed to seeking out ethical and eco-conscious brands, vetted by third-party sources, to find safe brands and products and avoid the threat of PFAS in bottled water.