PFAS in Tap Water: What You Need to Know and How to Protect Your Family

Protect Your Family from PFAS Contamination with Expert Insights from MyWaterFilter

Recent news reports have highlighted a concerning issue: tap water in various regions of Australia may be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

This issue was also prominently featured in the documentary “How to Poison a Planet” which explores the severe impact of PFAS contamination around the Royal Australian Air Force Base in Williamtown, New South Wales.

The documentary, similar to the American film “Dark Waters” featuring Mark Ruffalo, delves into the devastating effects on local communities, including Aboriginal communities, and the legal battles fought to hold polluters accountable.

Scientists have identified connections between PFAS chemicals and a range of health issues, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disorders, liver damage, developmental toxicity, ulcerative colitis, elevated cholesterol levels, pregnancy-related preeclampsia and hypertension, and immune system dysfunction.


Major media outlets, including Channel 9, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, have reported on the PFAS contamination issue, causing significant public concern among Australians.

Below is Channel 9 reporting on the issue recently.

 

What are PFAS and Why Should You Be Concerned?

PFAS are synthetic chemicals found in many household and industrial products due to their water-resistant, stain-resistant, and non-stick properties.

Unfortunately, these same properties make them highly persistent in the environment and potentially harmful to human health. As I mentioned above, PFAS exposure has been linked to various health issues, including cancer, liver damage, and immune system effects.

What actions are being taken for public safety?

United States

In response to the wide spread contamination, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established enforceable federal limits for six types of PFAS in drinking water, with limits ranging from 4 to 10 parts per trillion. Unfortunately it is not until 2028 when water utilities have to comply with these limits. 

European Union

The EU has also set strict limits on PFAS in drinking water and has been working on comprehensive regulations to manage and reduce PFAS pollution. 

The My Water Filter's Team attended the Aquatech conference in Amsterdam last November, The entire event was centred around PFAS removal and the incoming EU regulations. 

The below slide is from one of presenters from Nijhuis Industries. 

PFAS Regulation for Drinking Water in the EU

 As you can see on the slide, the EU directive for PFAS in drinking water 0.5 μg/L, but each member state has their own approach.

Most EU countries limit/monitor PFAS to 0.1 μg/L (sum of 20 compounds). In the Netherlands it comes officially into force from January 26th 2026.

Australia

The Australian government has not yet introduced enforceable limits for PFAS in drinking water similar to those established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the EU.

Instead, Australia relies on the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which are not legally enforceable standards but provide guidance to water regulators and suppliers.

These guidelines set the limit for PFOS at 0.07 micrograms per liter (70 parts per trillion) and for PFOA at 0.56 micrograms per liter (560 parts per trillion), which are significantly higher than the U.S. EPA's limits of 4 parts per trillion for both PFOS and PFOA.

In response to growing concerns about PFAS contamination, the Australian government has developed resources like the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) to provide a consistent, practical, and risk-based framework for regulating PFAS-contaminated materials and sites. 

Additionally, from July 2025, Australia plans to introduce national controls on the use, manufacture, import, and export of PFAS, including listing certain PFAS in the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard Register.

You might be wondering what is meant by "certain PFAS', is there more of them?

Types of PFAS

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of synthetic chemicals that include thousands of different compounds, but the most studied ones are:

  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): A type of carboxylate PFAS.
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS): A type of sulfonate PFAS.

Both of these chemicals are often referred to as C8, referring to the 8 carbon atoms in the molecular structure. 

'Carboxylate PFAS' and 'Sulfonate PFAS' differ primarily in their chemical structure:

  • Carboxylate PFAS have a carboxylic acid group (-COOH).
  • Sulfonate PFAS have a sulfonic acid group (-SO3H).

The diversity of PFAS arises from their unique chemical properties and the wide range of applications they serve.

This diversity allows PFAS to be used in a multitude of products and processes, but it also complicates efforts to manage and mitigate their environmental and health impacts.

The EPA’s Recommendations on PFAS Removal

The EPA has conducted extensive research on the best available technologies for removing PFAS from drinking water. According to their 2024 report, the most effective methods include reverse osmosis (RO), granular activated carbon (GAC), and ion exchange (IX) systems.

Efficiency of Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are highly effective at removing PFAS from drinking water:

  • High Removal Efficiency: RO systems can remove up to 99% of PFAS contaminants, making them one of the most effective methods available.  The reason RO systems are so effective is because the water is filtered through a carbon filter first, then the membrane, and another carbon filter at the end.
  • Mechanism: RO uses a semi-permeable membrane to filter out contaminants. Water is forced through the membrane, leaving impurities, including PFAS, behind.
  • Additional Benefits: Besides PFAS, RO systems also remove other harmful substances like heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses, providing comprehensive water purification.

Studies of RO Treatment for Carboxylate PFAS:

Studies of RO/NF Treatment for Carboxylate PFAS

Studies of RO Treatment for Sulfonate PFAS:

Studies of RO/NF Treatment for Sulfonate PFAS

Efficiency of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is another highly effective technology for PFAS removal:

  • High Removal Efficiency: GAC systems can achieve removal efficiencies in the high 90 percent range for various PFAS compounds. In some studies, GAC removed more than 99% of specific PFAS compounds like PFOA and PFOS.
  • Long-Term Performance: The effectiveness of GAC filters can decrease over time as adsorption sites become saturated. Regular replacement or regeneration of the filters is necessary to maintain high performance.
  • Factors Affecting Efficiency: The presence of other contaminants can impact the performance of GAC. Competing substances can reduce the available adsorption sites for PFAS.

Efficiency of Ion Exchange

Ion exchange (IX) systems are also effective in removing PFAS from drinking water:

  • High Affinity: IX systems use resins that have a high affinity for PFAS molecules, exchanging ions in the water for ions on the resin.
  • Regeneration: IX resins can be regenerated, but the process is often more complex and costly compared to other methods.
  • Versatility: IX is particularly effective for long-chain PFAS compounds but may require additional treatments for shorter-chain variants.

MyWaterFilter: Your Trusted Source for Clean Water Solutions

At MyWaterFilter, we are committed to providing you with the best solutions to ensure your family’s water is safe and clean.

Two of our team members attended the Aquatech Conference in Amsterdam, where global experts discussed the PFAS issue in depth.

My Water Filter Managing Director, Andrew Whannell organises his notes between presentations at the Aquatech Amsterdam, November, 2023

Pictured above: My Water Filter Managing Director, Andrew Whannell organises his notes between presentations at the Aquatech Amsterdam, November, 2023.

Our participation in this event underscores our dedication to staying at the forefront of water filtration technology to help providing Australians with water filtration needs to address modern day contamination challenges such as PFAS, forever chemicals.

How Can You Protect Your Family?

  1. Invest in a Reverse Osmosis System: Our RO systems are designed to remove up to 99% of PFAS contaminants, providing you with the highest level of water purification.
  2. Consider Granular Activated Carbon Filters: GAC filters are highly effective for PFAS removal and can be an excellent addition to your water purification system.
  3. Initial Water Testing: Conduct an initial test to determine PFAS levels in your water. While regular testing can be costly, an initial assessment will help you understand the contamination level and the effectiveness of your filtration system.
  4. Stay Informed: Follow our blog and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates on water safety and filtration technology.

Conclusion

The recent news about PFAS contamination is alarming, but by taking proactive steps and using proven water filtration technologies, you can protect your family’s health. At MyWaterFilter, we are here to support you with expert advice and high-quality filtration solutions. We are as committed as ever to help you create the best water you can.