Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Carbon filters not totally effective with fire-fighting foam

Carbon filtration tanks in Horsham, Pa Kim Weimer photo

Kyle Bagenstose reports for the Bucks County Courier:


As dozens of communities across the country face PFOS and PFOA contamination of their drinking water, many are turning to a technology called granular activated carbon to help filter the toxic chemicals -- including three heavily impacted towns in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
The military and local water authorities in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington are spending millions of dollars to install 20-foot tall towers of carbon at numerous drinking wells.
But a new study from the Colorado School of Mines raises concerns about the effectiveness of this progress. About two dozen chemicals related to PFOS and PFOA also can be found in water contaminated by firefighting foam, and those chemicals slip through carbon treatment faster than the other two perfluorinated compounds. This means the chemicals could get into drinking water if a water authority isn’t looking for them.
“If you’re treating for PFOS or PFOA only, a lot of these other chemicals are going to break through the system,” said Chris Higgins, a professor of environmental engineering at the Colorado college and the study's lead researcher. “That is not to say that carbon does not work for these chemicals … it does work but it doesn’t work as effectively.”
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