Treatment Options for Perfluorinated Compounds

Perfluorinated compounds are man-made chemicals that feature eight carbons and fluorine. They function mainly to make things less sticky. They are the primary ingredient in a number of products such as stain-resistant carpets, furniture and fabrics. They can also be seen on the inside of food packaging and is one of the main chemicals found in non-stick pans.


According to granular activated carbon filters experts the fact that these chemicals are manmade means that it only becomes a problem if you are near or in one of the affected areas where these were manufactured or used such as a wastewater treatment facility, furniture factory, textile factory and the like.  Any place where this has seeped into the ground or possibly present in the water supply.

EPA Recommendations

Unfortunately, the EPA has not yet established an official maximum contaminant level for the Safe Drinking Water Act. They have however, put out a health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion.  These compounds have voluntarily been phased out of production since 2002 but there is some still remaining where there is no acceptable alternative for its usage.

Treatment Options

There are actually three accepted treatment methods used for eliminating perfluorinated compounds and these are: reverse osmosis, ion exchange resin and finally granular activated carbon.

In reverse osmosis, commonly used to remove volatile organic chemicals from water you are able to generate two water streams namely a permeate stream which is good water and a concentrate stream or wastewater.

Granular activated carbon adsorbs the chemicals into the carbon and keeps it there.  Basically, water is run through it and the chemicals stay there.  

For ion exchange resin the same adsorption process is utilized.


Reverse osmosis will require some substantial electricity costs as you will need to place a pump that will provide the necessary pressure for the system. There are also tanks and re-pressurization pumps for the permeate.  Many municipal water treatment facilities use the granular activated carbon treatment and as long as there is enough empty bed contact time, which may be achieved by, changing spent activated carbon or putting in additional vessels.  Since it costs less than reverse osmosis, a lot of municipalities are using it.