It is hunting season in southern Minnesota, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is warning the public that fish are showing up with high levels of man-made chemicals called PFOS or PFAS, which can be harmful to humans in high concentrations. The agency is currently testing the deer in specific locations to see if they are registering high levels as well.
Michigan and Wisconsin currently have do-not-eat advisories for deer. Minnesota doesn’t yet, but that could change pending the results of the testing from this season. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency believes the contamination is coming from large bodies of water, like lakes and streams around Lake Elmo, Bde Maka Ska, and Pool 2 of the Mississippi River, which are also large sources of drinking water in the area.
What are PFOS and PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were developed back in the 1930s as a way to make people’s lives easier. They show up in many things that people use on a daily basis, including nonstick pans, stain- and water-repellent fabrics, electronics, paints, waxes, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams. They can build up in a person’s body over time causing many adverse health effects, particularly in children.
How are people exposed to them?
People can be exposed to PFAS by eating food that was grown in contaminated soil and water or eating animals that consumed contaminated food or water. Food also can absorb these chemicals from its packaging. Drinking water is a huge source of PFAS contamination, whether you get your water from a municipal supply or a private well. Bodies of water, especially groundwater, become contaminated when these man-made chemicals leach out from industrial facilities where these chemicals were manufactured or where these chemicals were used to make other products. They also come from oil refineries or airfields where PFAS were used to fight fires.
What are the health effects of PFAS contamination?
People who are exposed to these chemicals for long periods of time can develop reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney and immunological problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They can cause tumors, increase cholesterol levels, disrupt thyroid hormones, and negatively impact infant birth weights.
How can I protect myself against PFAS?
The best way to protect your family from ingesting man-made chemicals during hunting season is to only hunt or fish in areas that aren’t under a PFAS warning. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced in September it would be testing samples from wild deer killed by hunters near Duluth and the Twin Cities for industrial chemicals. The biggest concern is animals killed in areas where spills, leaks or industrial sites have contaminated the surrounding bodies of water with these chemicals.
To protect your home drinking water from these same leached chemicals, Haferman Water Conditioning recommends installing a reverse osmosis filtration system to filter out PFAS chemicals. The Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station uses reverse osmosis to clean your drinking water at the tap. It does this by forcing the water that comes out of your faucet through three to five filters that each have a different job to do. The carbon filter removes larger particles of dirt and debris that can damage the reverse osmosis membrane, while other filters take out the volatile organic chemicals and compounds that make your water smell and taste awful.
The reverse osmosis membrane, which is a semi-permeable membrane, removes most of the dissolved solids in your water, anything that is too small to see without a microscope. The K5 with WOW* tank is certified to remove PFAS, salt, lead, fluoride, and chlorine from your drinking water.
Kinetico also offers whole-home membrane systems that can trap contaminants using a semipermeable material that only water can pass through. This system has a high-capacity tank to make sure your household has clean water every day of the year. The membrane can produce thousands of gallons of filtered water per day.
Even homes that get their water from a municipal water treatment plant can benefit from having a point-of-use water filtration system such as the Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station to act as a final barrier of protection. Municipal water systems are not required to treat their water for PFAS. The Safe Water Drinking Act regulates drinking water contaminants but there are no current maximum contaminant levels for PFAS.
If you want to learn more about how Haferman Water Conditioning can help you keep man-made chemicals out of your drinking water, contact us at 952-894-4040. We are a full-service water treatment company located in the south metro of the Twin Cities, and we have been doing this for nearly 50 years.
*The Kinetico K5 with WOW tank is certified by WQA to NSF/ANSI Standard 58 for the removal of PFOS/PFOA.