PFAS Water Contamination: How to Test Your Water

PFAS Water Contamination: How to Test Your Water

Have you been wondering if your tap water is contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals? You wouldn't be alone. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are synthetic chemicals used in products like nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, and firefighting foam. Unfortunately, these "forever chemicals" don't break down easily and have been linked to health issues like cancer and liver damage. You may be entitled to a recovery through a PFAS Class Action Lawsuit. 

Many communities across the country have discovered PFAS in their groundwater or municipal water supplies. If you live near a military base or manufacturing site where PFAS were used heavily in the past, your water could be at risk. 

The good news is you don't have to sit back and wonder if there's a problem. Home water testing kits now available can check for the presence of several common PFAS contaminants. For a few hundred dollars, you can collect water samples from your tap and have them analyzed by an accredited lab. While the results may be concerning if PFAS are detected, at least you'll have the information you need to make important decisions about using alternative water sources or installing a filtration system. Knowledge is power, and testing your water for these toxic chemicals is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family.

Why You Should Test Your Water for PFAS Chemicals

PFAS chemicals like PFOA and PFOS have been used for decades to make products like nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam. Unfortunately, these “forever chemicals” don’t break down in the environment and can contaminate drinking water sources. Many communities across the U.S. have detected PFAS in public water systems or private wells.

Given the potential health risks, it’s a good idea to test your tap or well water for PFAS. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Contact an accredited lab in your area to request a PFAS water test kit. They can send you bottles and instructions for properly collecting samples from your faucets or well.
  2. Carefully follow the instructions to collect your water samples. Be sure to run the water for a few minutes before filling the bottles to get a good representation of your regular drinking water.
  3. Mail the samples back to the lab for analysis. Most offer a standard test for common PFAS like PFOA and PFOS, as well as expanded panels that check for a wider range of these chemicals.
  4. Review the results which the lab will provide in about 1 to 2 weeks. If PFAS are detected above the EPA’s health advisory levels or other state standards, consider installing a water filter or purifier certified to remove these contaminants. In some cases, public water systems or well owners may need to take corrective actions.

While no amount of PFAS exposure is considered “safe,” the good news is by testing your water and taking appropriate steps, you can reduce your exposure and protect your family’s health. Be proactive - the time for PFAS chemical contamination awareness and action is now.

How PFAS Chemicals Enter Our Water Supply

PFAS chemicals are used in many consumer and industrial products, like nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foams. Unfortunately, their widespread use has led to contamination of drinking water supplies across the country.

PFAS enter the water cycle in a few ways:

  1. Manufacturing waste - PFAS are released as byproducts during their production and the manufacturing of products containing them. This waste then leaches into soil and groundwater.
  2. Landfill runoff - Many products containing PFAS end up in landfills, where the chemicals can leach out and enter streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers.
  3. Firefighting foam - Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) contains PFAS and is used to extinguish hydrocarbon fuel fires. During testing and emergency response, the foam often flows into surface waters or seeps into soil.
  4. Wastewater treatment plants - Standard wastewater treatment does not fully remove PFAS, so treated wastewater effluent and sewage sludge still contain these chemicals. When released into the environment, they end up in surface and groundwaters.
  5. Air deposition - Some PFAS become airborne emissions during their production and use, then settle into soil, surface waters and lakes. They've even been found in remote mountain lakes, far from any known source.

The bad news is PFAS are ubiquitous in the environment. The good news is you can test your tap or well water to determine if it's contaminated. Home test kits and professional laboratory analyzes can detect many types of PFAS, so you'll know whether additional treatment like an ion exchange filter or reverse osmosis system is needed. Knowledge is power, so get your water tested today.

Available Tests for Detecting PFAS in Water

To properly test your water for PFAS contamination, you have a few options available. The most common are:

Home Test Kits

Home test kits can screen for certain types of PFAS like PFOA and PFOS. Popular, EPA-approved kits include those from companies like Home Water Testing and National Testing Laboratories. These kits typically involve collecting water samples and mailing them to a lab for analysis. Results are available within 1 to 2 weeks. While convenient, home kits may not test for some of the newer PFAS chemicals.

Public Water System Testing

If you get your water from a public utility, contact them to inquire about their PFAS testing. Many water systems now routinely test for certain PFAS as part of their standard water quality reports. They should be able to provide you the latest test results for your local water supply. This option ensures a professional lab analysis, but may not include some private well sources.

EPA Approved Commercial Labs

For the most comprehensive analysis, use an EPA approved commercial lab in your area. These labs can test for up to 18 of the most common PFAS using sophisticated equipment like liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. They will send a water sampling kit for you to collect water from your taps and return for a full PFAS panel. Fees typically range from $200 to $500 per test. Some recommended national labs include Eurofins Eaton Analytical and Vista Analytical Laboratory.

The levels of PFAS in your drinking water can have significant health impacts, so testing is an important first step. While options and costs vary, using a certified lab for an EPA-approved 18-analyte panel will provide the most complete analysis of your water and peace of mind about what’s flowing from your faucets.

Steps to Take if PFAS Contamination Is Detected

If testing confirms the presence of PFAS in your water, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to ensure your drinking water is safe.

Install a Water Filtration System

The most effective way to remove PFAS from your water is with a filter that uses a treatment process like granular activated carbon (GAC), reverse osmosis (RO), or ion exchange (IX). These have been shown to reduce PFAS levels by up to 95% or more. Look for filters certified to remove PFOA and PFOS. RO systems can be installed under the sink or counter-top. For whole house treatment, consider a GAC or IX system.

Use Bottled Water for Drinking and Cooking

As an temporary solution, switch to bottled water for activities where PFAS exposure is most significant - drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth. Look for bottled water that has been tested and certified as PFAS-free. Be aware, however, that bottled water is not regulated like public water and there is no guarantee it contains lower PFAS levels. It should only be used short-term until you install an in-home filter.

Test Your Water Regularly

Even after installing a filter, continue to test your tap water annually to ensure PFAS levels remain at or below safety standards. As technology improves, filters may become even more effective at removing these chemicals. Regular testing will give you peace of mind that your family is drinking the cleanest, healthiest water possible.

Contact Local Officials

Reach out to municipal water authorities and public health officials in your area to advise them of the PFAS detection in your water. Provide any test results you have obtained. Putting pressure on local government agencies is the best way to demand policy changes, additional water testing, and solutions to this urgent public health issue. Together, we can work to curb PFAS pollution and hold polluters accountable.

The discovery of PFAS in your drinking water can be frightening but staying proactive in pursuing solutions will help safeguard you and your family. With filters, bottled water, testing and advocacy, you can take back control of your water quality and health. Staying informed and vigilant, one day we will have clean, contaminant-free water once again.

Finding a PFAS Lawyer to File a Class Action Lawsuit

Once you’ve tested your water and confirmed the presence of PFAS, the next step is to find an experienced PFAS lawyer to discuss your legal options, including filing a class action lawsuit. Here are some tips to find the right lawyer for you:

Look for lawyers with experience handling PFAS and class action cases. PFAS litigation is complex, so choose a lawyer with a proven track record of success in similar cases. Ask about their experience with class actions and if they've worked on any PFAS cases before.

Check online reviews from past clients. See what other people affected by PFAS contamination have said about the lawyer and their experience. Look for lawyers with mostly positive reviews discussing their expertise, communication, and ability to get good results.

Schedule consultations with a few candidates. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations. Ask them about their experience, strategy for your case, estimated timelines, and potential outcomes. Get a feel for their style of communication to find someone you feel comfortable working with during what may be a lengthy legal process.

Discuss fees and billing policies upfront. Most class action lawyers work on contingency, meaning they don’t get paid unless you win or settle your case. Make sure you understand all fees, costs, and billing policies before signing a retainer agreement. Ask if they bill by the hour or take a percentage of any settlement.

Once you find a lawyer you want to work with, they can review the details of your case, test results, and options for seeking compensation from the parties responsible for the contamination. While filing a lawsuit can be a difficult process, an experienced PFAS lawyer will help guide you through the steps to get justice and closure. With their expertise, you'll have the best chance of holding polluters accountable and making sure your community's water is safe for generations to come.

Contact Fletcher Law For Help With Your PFAS Case

If you think your well water or municipal water supply has been contaminated with PFAS chemicals, the best way to know for sure is to get it tested. Here are the steps to test your water for PFAS:

Contact an environmental testing lab in your area that offers PFAS water testing. They will send you water sampling kits that you use to collect water samples from your tap. Follow the instructions carefully to properly collect and ship your samples to the lab for analysis.

Review the lab's methodology to ensure they are using EPA-approved methods for detecting PFAS like PFOA and PFOS. The most common methods are LC-MS/MS or HPLC-MS/MS. These methods can detect PFAS chemicals down to part per trillion levels.

Determine which PFAS chemicals you want to test for. At a minimum, you'll want to test for PFOA and PFOS, but you can also test for other emerging PFAS like PFNA, PFHxS and PFBS. The more PFAS you test for, the more comprehensive the results will be.

Understand the results and take action. If PFAS are detected in your water above EPA health advisory levels, you'll want to stop drinking the water immediately. You may need to use bottled water or install a water filtration system certified to remove PFAS.

In some cases, residents have pursued legal claims against parties responsible for PFAS pollution to recover costs related to water testing and treatment. If your water has been impacted, contact Fletcher Law for a free case review to understand your legal options for holding polluters accountable.