Emerging Contaminants – The PFOA, PFOS Water PanicBy: lfadmin
What is PFOA & PFOS
There is a new buzz word in our industry. It’s PFOA, well that’s an acronym, not a word. What is PFOA? Pretty Flowers of Africa? NO. It’s Perfluorooctanoic acid, say that 10 times!! It’s one of the ingredients in the manufacture of fire foams and nonstick coating agents. Here is a link to the everything you wanted to know about PFOA. Read it and return here.
Ok you back? PFOA is turning up in public and private water supplies. After PFOA was discovered, the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health, (DOH) went into full panic mode. The DEC established 1,500 potential cleanup sites, (that’s 3,000 tanks), and sent out the call to every water treatment supplier in the Northeast and every man, woman and child with a pipe wrench to install treatment systems.
The DEC set up a command center and got into the filter business. Imagine that? A government entity in the filter business. My New York customers and I could write a book on the 4 weeks of insanity this caused. They purchased filter tanks, filled them with activated carbon, and sent out every qualified (?) Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally, to install them. This is the stuff of fireside stories grandfathers tell bored grandchildren. “Kids, did I ever tell you about the PFOA Panic of 2016?” It started on a quiet winter day in February…. I got a call from a dealer in New York………
How to remove PFOA & PFOS from drinking water.
All kidding aside here are the key take-aways:
- Choose the right carbon – Calgon has been working with PFOA for 10 years and their studies and experience shows that coal base carbon is the way to go.
- F-600 is a great choice though on the pricey side.
- F-400 also works well and isn’t as expensive.
- If you choose another brand of coal base carbon be sure it has been tested and will not throw off arsenic.
- The empty bed contact time (EBCT) for PFOA is 10+ minutes.
- Use multiple carbon tanks (lead/lag) with a sample port between them.
- Backwash with treated water if possible.
- After installation, let the system run for a couple of days before drawing a sample for testing.
- EPA limit for PFOA & PFOS is 70 ppt – that’s parts per trillion.
- The limit varies state by state so make sure you check before installing. It’s never higher than 70 ppt.
- Some states have placed restrictions on arsenic (naturally occurring) which may come off the carbon.
- Waste & Handling
- The generator (homeowner) is responsible for the disposal of the spent carbon. However, you should consider talking with your Calgon Carbon supplier who can assist in obtaining a Carbon Acceptance Number (CAN). There is cost associated with the testing and application but it is a green and sustainable means of handling the spent carbon. The spent carbon is reactivated and reused.
- There are no special handling requirements when removing the carbon used to remove PFOA and PFOS. Handle as you would any other activated carbon rebed. Gloves, dust mask and safety glasses.
My industry insiders tell me PFOA sites are cropping up in almost every state. I’ve already seen it in PA, MI, NY, MD, WV, even Alaska. Now everyone is testing for Lead and PFOA. Who knows what’s next?