WASHINGTON – New laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found four water filters that reduce the detected “forever chemicals” known as PFAS in sampled drinking water by nearly 100 percent.
The results come as the U.S. Geological Survey announced alarming findings that almost half of the nation’s tap water has been contaminated by one or more of the 32 individual PFAS for which the agency tested. The pervasiveness of these hazardous substances in our drinking water highlights the urgent need for effective filtration solutions.
“We know drinking water is one of the most common sources of PFAS exposure,” said Sydney Evans, a science analyst at EWG who led the water filter testing project. “It’s almost impossible to avoid PFAS, but these filters can reduce or eliminate levels from the water coming from home taps.
“We tested their performance on a real home tap, with water contaminated by PFAS, because we know people are looking for a system that will reduce the PFAS in their tap water,” she said.
If you know or suspect PFAS are in your tap water, the best way to protect yourself is by using a filtration system at home. EWG researchers tested the performance of 10 popular water filters and measured how well each reduced forever chemicals detected in home tap water.
They also reported on several other important qualities, including the cost of the water filter and its potential useful life, among other considerations.
“It’s crucial that after choosing a filtration system, you keep changing the water filter,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. “If you don’t change it, and it becomes saturated, the levels of PFAS in the filtered water can go above the levels coming from the tap.”
“One added benefit is that while many of these filters work to remove PFAS, they will also filter out other contaminants in water,” added Stoiber.
Very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system. These chemicals harm development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increase risk of certain cancers; and affect metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain.
PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they do not break down in the environment and build up in our blood and organs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected PFAS in the blood of 99 percent of Americans, including newborn babies.
PFAS could contaminate the drinking water for 200 million Americans nationwide. And EWG’s interactive map shows the drinking water and groundwater of more than 2,800 communities are contaminated by these chemicals. But the true scale of contamination is likely much greater.
In March, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed bold new limits for six PFAS in public water systems. The two best-studied and most notorious compounds – PFOA, once used in Teflon, and PFOS, formerly used in Scotchgard – would have a limit of 4 parts per trillion in drinking water. The chemicals PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX would be subject to a hazard index calculation to determine whether the levels of these PFAS pose a potential health risk.
“In addition to finalizing these limits, the EPA must move quickly to regulate industrial discharges of PFAS into the air and water,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s vice president of government affairs. “Polluters must clean up their own mess and stop PFAS contamination at the source.”
Water utilities nationwide are testing drinking water for 29 PFAS compounds as part of the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. Those tests are taking place between 2023 and 2025, with some data expected to be released this summer.
“Filtering PFAS out of tap water should not fall on consumers,” added Stoiber. “Every person deserves to drink clean water.
“But until the EPA’s limits for PFAS in water are final, we can confidently recommend these four water filters to reduce PFAS concentrations in tap water,” she said.
Here is more advice:
- Search EWG’s tap water database – type in your ZIP code to learn about the concerning chemicals, including PFAS, that are in your tap water.
- Or check out the interactive PFAS map to see whether your drinking water contains forever chemicals and where in the U.S. they have been detected.
- If you have a private water well and suspect PFAS contamination, consult your state health department about having your well tested.
- If you buy a home water filter, remember to routinely replace the filter. The filtration system will only be effective if used as instructed.
- The best way to filter PFAS from your water is an in-home reverse osmosis filter under your sink or at your tap, but the cost of this kind of system puts them out of reach for some. Our study shows many countertop pitchers can also effectively reduce PFAS concentrations.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.