Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
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Environmental Health Division
PFAS and Home Treatment of Water
If you have concerns about your health, you can take steps to reduce your potential exposure to PFAS. Filters containing activated carbon or reverse osmosis membranes have been shown to be effective at removing PFAS from water supplies. All water treatment units require regular maintenance to work properly. Water treatment units that are not properly maintained will lose their effectiveness over time.
Other types of common water treatment systems, such as water softeners or iron filtration systems, are not likely to remove PFAS. Boiling water will not remove PFAS. While many homes have whole-house water softening or iron filtration systems, sampling data indicate that those systems do NOT remove PFAS.
There are both point-of-use (water is treated at one faucet or location) and point-of-entry (all the water in your home is treated) treatment options to reduce PFAS in drinking water. Point-of-use treatment tends to be more economical than point-of-entry. The following treatment options are effective at removing PFAS from drinking water when the unit is properly installed and maintained
- Reverse osmosis uses energy to push water through a membrane with tiny pores. The membrane stops many contaminants while allowing water to pass through. Reverse osmosis is more practical as a point-of-use treatment option (not at point-of-entry).
- Granular activated carbon filter: Contaminants accumulate on the filter while water passes through.
- MPCA, MDH and West Central Environmental Consulting evaluated one inexpensive, easily installed, point -of-use carbon filter option for filtering drinking water at a sink faucet: Evaluation of Perfluorochemical Removal by a Small, In-home Filter (PDF).
- Learn more about Water Treatment Using Carbon Filters: GAC Filter Information.
- There are some ion exchange resin systems that may remove PFAS, but be careful to ensure any system selected meets the NSF/ANSI certification standards listed below.
When purchasing home water treatment to address PFAS, look for products certified to NSF/ANSI 53 (for filters) or NSF/ANSI 58 (reverse osmosis).
Learn more about these treatment options, pros and cons, and general costs at the Home Water Treatment webpage. A water treatment specialist can help you select the best option for your household.
In Minnesota, water treatment systems must be installed by a licensed and bonded plumbing or water conditioning contractor, although homeowners may install equipment in homes they own and occupy. After the treatment system is installed, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining the system.