Duke study finds not all ‘in-home’ water filters remove toxic chemicals

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A recent study by scientists in the Triangle found that not all in-home water filters remove toxic chemicals from drinking water.

The study by scientists at Duke University and North Carolina State University found that while using any filter is better than using none, many household filters are only partially effective at removing toxic perfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, from drinking water.

Researchers tested 63 water samples from different homes in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties.

According to the study, the more expensive water filters, such as the ‘two-stage filters’ and ‘reverse osmosis filters’ almost completely removed all of the PFAS chemicals.

However, researchers say the pitcher, countertop, refrigerator, and faucet-mounted style filters were inconsistent and unpredictable. They added in some cases these filters increased PFAS levels.         

“The more we study PFAS, the more we find that there are a variety of health effects,” said Linda Birnbaum, the former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Birnbaum said that PFAS chemicals cause high cholesterol, hypertension during pregnancy, and even kidney or testicular cancer.     

“The issue is if you have the right kind of water filter under your sink, you may be able to get most of the PFAS out of your drinking water,” Birnbaum said. “But that’s an added expense for homeowners.”

Birnbaum said we need to prevent the PFAS chemicals from getting in the rivers and lakes to begin with.

“I really think the issue is we need to reduce the contamination of it coming into our homes, and not put all that burden on individual homeowners to have to deal with,” Birnbaum said.

CBS 17 did reach out to some of the companies that had water filters tested in this study.

The companies told CBS 17 that they are continuing to enhance the performance of their water filters as new contaminants, like PFAS, emerge.

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