PFAS and Pharmaceuticals in our Las Vegas Valley Water
Recently, there has been a been a spotlight on PFAS (forever chemicals) in not just our local water, but all across our nation. PFAS are chemicals that are use to produce the non-stick qualities, i.e. Teflon, Scotchgard. They are deemed "forever chemicals" because of how they remain in the human body and in our environment. They are linked to a variety of health problems like liver damage, cancer, immune deficiencies and developmental issues. On June 22nd of this year, 3M reached $10.8 BILLION settlement in about 4,000 lawsuits against them for contamination of public water sources. That money will be spread out over 13 years to test and treat water in communities all across the country. Previously in June, another 3 companies (Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva) had a settlement of $1.19 billion to also treat the PFAS in public water sources.
You would think with the harm and findings linked to PFAS that it would already be an EPA regulated substance to be tested for in water quality reports. Unfortunately, that is not the case. This year however, there has been proposals made by the EPA to add PFAS to their current drinking water regulations. The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations set MCLG (Maximum Contaminant Level Goal: Level that no known or anticipated adverse health effects will occur) and will force local jurisdictions to address a contaminant if it surpasses a MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level: Enforceable level of said contaminant).
In the EPA’s proposal (find the link below), they propose to have a MCLG of 0 ng/L for both PFOA and PFOS. The proposed MCL (when they will force authorities to take action) at 4.0 ng/L. There is a study done by the Desert Research Institute (linked below), they measured 17 PFAS in multiple different locations across the Las Vegas Valley water system and the Reno water system. Of those 17 PFAs measured, our Las Vegas water has traces of 11. The statistics for PFOA found a maximum of 65.5 ng/L, an average of 27.2 ng/L, and a median of 11.7 ng/L (all levels above the EPA’s suggested MCL. There were similar findings for PFOS in the water: maximum of 38.0 ng/L, average of 12.9 ng/L and median of 4.6 (all still above the EPA’s MCL standard). Should these standards be approved to be added to current regulations, our local government would have to address some further type of treatment for our Las Vegas Valley’s water.
In a different study done by CSN researchers, they are taking a look at PFAS as well as various drugs with samples taken from the Las Vegas Wash which moves treated wastewater from the valley into Lake Mead (linked below). They found 28 pharmaceutical compounds in the wash (antidepressants, opioids, as well as medications for allergies, coughs, blood pressure, diabetes, etc..). There was also noticeable spikes in other drug compounds during large events taking place in Las Vegas (EDC and NFL Draft). In addition to that, they found PFAS and methamphetamines in snow, transported in the wind. With 99% of Las Vegas water used indoors being recycled, it does bring to question what gets disposed of in our water that makes its way back into our water supply.
With all this research and data being found, but no actual legislation getting enacted yet, that would leave any homeowner concerned about their water supply. The good news is that there are water treatment solutions out there to remove those contaminants from the water. Whole home filtration tanks (like ones used with our Champion and Guardian) will remove PFAS and pharmaceuticals from the water throughout your home, as well as chlorine, pesticides, tastes/odors, chemicals and heavy metals. Reverse osmosis systems (like the Purifier) will also remove all of the contaminants a whole home filtration system will remove as well as the TDS (total dissolved solids) in water as a point-of-use drinking water system. We have a link to studies done about the effectiveness of those filtration types to address pharmaceuticals and PFAS listed down below as well.