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What are PFASs or PFCs?

Perfluoroalkyl Compounds (PFCs) or Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs): Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Treatment

​What are PFASs or PFCs?

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), also referred to as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), are man-made chemical compounds that are not naturally occurring in the environment. PFASs were developed to repel oil, grease, and water and were used in many everyday consumer products for decades, such as protective coatings in cookware, carpet, clothing, paper, and cardboard packaging, as well as in fire-fighting foams. They are very stable compounds that are resilient to breakdown in the environment. The most common PFCs are perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Where are PFASs or PFCs Found?

Contaminated water supplies are primarily located in communities where PFCs were manufactured or used, as well as near airfields or military bases where firefighting drills were conducted, although they can also appear in remote locations via migration with flooding through groundwater or soil or through the air as dust.

 Perfluoroalkyl Compounds or Perfluorinated Chemicals

Why Treatment is Needed?

Because PFOS and PFOA compounds were produced and used in large quantities, many humans have been exposed to them. Consumer products and food are the most typical sources of exposure to these chemicals as well as drinking water from sources with contaminated water supplies. Additionally, PFCs have been found in air, water, and soil at locations where they were produced or used across the United States.

Today there are a limited number of ongoing uses of PFCs and related chemicals as most of the major manufacturers of the chemicals voluntarily phased out production in response to concerns from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

A Harvard study published in August 2016 found elevated levels of these two chemicals in 194 out of 4,864 water supplies in 33 states. The study found that the drinking water supplies of six million U.S. residents exceed the USEPA’s lifetime health advisory for contamination of PFOS and PFOA, and that nearly 17 million U.S. residents had PFASs in their water at or above the maximum EPA limit (data interpreted by CNN).

Currently, many municipal water systems are undergoing aggressive testing and treatment for PFOA and PFOS. Water sources near military bases, manufacturing sites, and other places where these chemicals have been made or used, or wherever else contamination is possible, are most at risk.

 Contact Us

Contact Evoqua for help with PFOS and PFOC removal:

John Lombardo

Read about Evoqua's solution for treatment and remediation of PFCs


​Health Effects of PFASs and PFCs

Health advisories released by the EPA indicate that exposure to PFOS and PFOA above certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects, and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes). As a result, the EPA developed revised guidelines in May 2016 of a combined lifetime exposure of 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA.

Additionally, the EPA has included PFOA on its Contaminant Candidate List 3.  

PFCs are not currently regulated chemicals although the USEPA is reviewing PFOA and PFOS as drinking water contaminants in accordance with the process required by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).


Sources Consulted