PFAS: Contaminants in your drinking water
Harmful PFAS - and their byproducts - have been found in North Carolina drinking water. What it means for you and how Culligan can help
PFAS in North Carolina drinking water
Recent water tests conducted by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) continue to find elevated levels of harmful PFAS - or forever chemicals - in drinking water. This impacts roughly one million people in North Carolina who rely on this water for drinking.
And a new strain of these per- and polyfluoroalkyl acids (PFAS), known as PFMOAA, is replacing GenX as the primary contaminant in North Carolina water.
These contaminants are man-made and come from common household non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant products like carpeting, clothing, food packaging and cookware. They are also used in industrial processes.
Drinking water contamination usually occurs locally. This can happen near a facility where PFAS - or products using them - are manufactured, like the Chemours Plant (formerly DuPont), located on the banks of the Cape Fear River.
In 2017, the NCDEQ mandated that Chemours clean up its production of toxic PFAS and focus on improving water quality. While levels of some PFAS, like GenX, have significantly decreased, they have not been eliminated. In fact, PFMOAA - a close cousin of GenX - has seen a major uptick.
PFMOAA, due to its composition, is not technically labeled as a PFAS and as a result, it's not as strictly regulated. The NCDEQ is working to change that.
More research is needed to determine how PFMOAA impacts humans. However, there are significant negative health-related effects of PFAS.
Health-related effects of PFAS
The EPA recently updated its lifetime health advisory levels in relation to safe levels of exposure to individual PFAS over the course of a person's life. Based on new 2022 data, the levels at which adverse health effects can occur are much lower than previously known. The final health advisory for GenX is 10 parts per trillion, a considerable drop from the 2016 recommendation of 70 parts per trillion.
Long-term exposure is a concern for PFAS. The chemicals can build up in the body over time so even small but consistent doses can be dangerous. These health effects include:
- Birth defects and developmental issues during pregnancy or for breastfed infants — including low birth weight, advanced puberty and skeletal deformities
- Cancer (testicular and kidney)
- Liver tissue damage
- Weakened immune system (antibody production and compromised immunity)
- Thyroid hormone imbalances
- Hypertension and high cholesterol
Next steps for PFAS
Public water systems are required to notify consumers if water is contaminated.
Consumers can also contact their local water supplier to ask for information on PFMOAA and GenX.* You can also request a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report. Learn more about PFAS and treatment options and view our water emergency quick reference sheet.
Culligan can also help. We offer several solutions to help drastically reduce PFAS in your drinking water.
The Culligan® Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with a Total Defense Cartridge was tested in laboratory and field applications by North Carolina State University in 2017. Culligan's solution reduced similar fluorochemicals, such as GenX, in tap water by 95% compared to untreated water. Contact your local Culligan Water Expert for pricing.
Custom Culligan® Whole Home Systems with dual carbon filters have been installed in over 300 homes. They are proven to reduce PFAS in water at levels typically found in well water. Contact your local Culligan Water expert with questions for more information.
Culligan® Bottled Water DOES NOT use Wilmington City Water as the source water. Our bottled water is produced by North Carolina Bottled Water Company, an International Bottled Water Association member (IBWA).
IBWA sets standards for their members that meet or exceed standards set by the FDA. IBWA Member bottlers are inspected by both the FDA and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), to ensure that IBWA guidelines are followed. By using an IBWA bottler, we are able to provide you with the best-tasting and safest bottled water available. Contact your local Culligan Water Expert for Bottled Water pricing.
*Please refer to the NCDEQ website for additional information on water testing in Bladen, Cumberland, Robeson and Sampson counties within a specific proximity to the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility.
Worried about PFAS in your water?
Get an expert water consultation.
Improving your home's water is easier and more convenient than ever with Culligan Water's in-home or virtual appointments.
Culligan has custom solutions to reduce dangerous PFAS. Water treatment solutions for PFAS include:
RO Drinking Water Systems