There are currently three proven treatment technologies for PFAS removal:
- Granular Activated Carbon (GAC): This treatment, the most studied for PFAS removal, uses activated carbon to adsorb compounds and chemicals in water at the phase between liquid and solid. The activated carbon is made from organic materials, like wood, coconut, or coal, that have high carbon content and is used in its granular form.
- Anion Exchange (IX): Resins that are either negatively or positively charged attract and remove contaminants that carry the opposite charge. Depending on the type of PFAS, IX can be just as effective as GAC but can be more expensive to operate.
- Nanofiltration (NF) and Reverse Osmosis (RO) Membranes: While the most expensive option, these types of membranes are extremely effective at removing PFAS. They differ on how tight the membranes are, which may have a different impact on treating long chain versus short chain PFAS compounds. Membranes are generally useful in treating smaller volumes of water since they often require a large volume of water for backwashing.
Choosing the right solution, or combination of them, will depend on each water supplier's unique situation. This can include weighing factors such as: State and Federal regulations, other compounds found in the water that might impact treatment and testing, and the space needed to build new or upgrade existing treatment plants. It’s important to be open, flexible, and thorough when considering treatment options.
In addition to treatment, or while treatment is underway, water suppliers may also consider temporarily or permanently removing a well from service, changing water sources and/or blending water from various sources to create a supply with lower PFAS MCLs.