Most of us take clean drinking water as a given. Contaminated water, we’re led to believe, is an issue for poorer, developing nations – those still without access to running water or water suppliers. Yet this isn’t true.

In fact, scientists have discovered the drinking water of billions of people globally contains perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), so-called ‘forever chemicals’. These chemicals, found in dozens of household items, accumulate in the human body through drinking water, causing a range of health issues at high doses. They take centuries to break down, and they’re in the blood of nearly every person on earth.1

Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are taking regulatory action, though critics say progress has been slow. Fortunately, private companies are taking matters into their own hands in areas such as water utilities, engineering and construction, waste management and technology.

Take Evoqua Water Technologies. Largely technology agnostic, the company employs a range of cutting-edge solutions such as granular activated carbon (GAC), resins, ion-exchange membranes, and filtration, depending on their clients’ particular needs. Ion-exchange remains their main solution, however, which involves tiny magnets attracting and holding contaminated materials from passing through the water system. These solutions remove PFAS to non-detectable levels.2

The firm’s footprint now stretches across the US, from the coasts of Maine to the mountains of Colorado. A huge mobile unit, meanwhile, means that it can reach virtually every part of the country in a matter of hours, while the company is also expanding internationally, including in India and the Asia Pacific.3

As people and municipalities realise the need to test and treat our water supplies, the opportunity set for Evoqua should expand. And governments may eventually become a powerful tailwind too. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap in October, outlining several potential actions it plans to take between 2022 and 2024.4

These include limiting PFAS in drinking water and the potential designation of PFAS as a hazardous substance. Not only would there be a nationwide approach to monitoring, but the designation as a hazardous substance would set into motion the process of identifying and cleaning up PFAS all over the US, with the EPA suing polluters to cover costs. Other countries may eventually follow suit.

While water cleanliness has now become a global problem that we can’t afford to ignore, it’s not intractable. Companies like Evoqua will be key in making sure clean drinking water is a given again.


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1 CHEM Trust, https://chemtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/PFAS_Brief_CHEMTrust_2019.pdf
2 Evoqua, https://www.evoqua.com/en/articles/pfas-resource-guide/
3 Evoqua, Evoqua, https://www.evoqua.com/en-GB/evoqua/products--services/
4 United States Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-strategic-roadmap-epas-commitments-action-2021-2024

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