Berkey filters remove hundreds of drinking water contaminants. But does this list extend to one of the most concerning unregulated contaminants that exists today: PFAS?
In this guide, we’ve answered the question, “Do Berkey water filters remove PFAS chemicals?”
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Yes, according to independent testing, Berkey water filters remove up to 99.9% of various types of PFAS chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS.
- The Black Berkey filter elements are activated carbon filters and remove PFAS through the process of adsorption.
- However, Berkey filters aren’t officially certified by the NSF for PFAS removal.
Table of Contents
- 🤔 How Do PFAS Get Into Water?
- 🧪 Do Berkey Filters Remove PFAS? Test Results
- 🔎 Which Berkey Filters Remove PFAS?
- 📖 How do Berkey Filters Remove PFAS?
- 🧐 Are Berkey Filters Certified To Remove PFAS?
- 🧫 What Other Contaminants Do Berkey Filters Remove?
- 🔎 Which Types of Filters Are Best for PFAS Reduction?
- ❔ Do Berkey Water Filters Remove PFAS? FAQ
🤔 How Do PFAS Get Into Water?
PFAS chemicals, such as PFOA and PFOS, were commonly used in manufacturing chemicals in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and more. They’re also still used today in firefighting foams.
Many companies no longer use PFAS due to concerning research into their health effects, but PFAS are known as ‘forever chemicals’ or ‘persistent industrial chemicals’ because they linger in the environment for decades after they’re released. This is the main reason why PFOS and PFOA continue to contaminate our water sources today.
Wondering whether your water contains PFAS? The only way to know for sure is to conduct a water test. In the meantime, check out this interactive PFAS map produced by the Environmental Working Group.
🧪 Do Berkey Filters Remove PFAS? Test Results
According to independent testing conducted on behalf of Berkey, the Black Berkey elements are capable of removing up to 99.9% of PFAS, including PFOS and PFOA.
That means you should be protected against PFAS chemicals if you filter all your water in a countertop Berkey unit – even if your water contains large quantities of these contaminants.
The PFAS chemicals that Berkey elements have been tested to remove are:
- Perfluorobutane Sulfonate (PFBS)
- Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)
- Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA)
- Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
- Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
- Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)
- Perfluorohexane Sulfonate (PFSxS)
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
- Fluorotelomer alcohol 8:2 (PTOH)
You’ll need to clean and replace your Berkey filters as advised by Berkey to make sure they provide continued PFAS removal throughout the lifespan of your filtration system.
🔎 Which Berkey Filters Remove PFAS?
There are two Berkey filters available for the Big Berkey countertop filter:
- The Black Berkey Filter
- The Fluoride Reduction Filter
The Black Berkey filter is the most popular Berkey filter and is an essential component of the countertop filtration system. According to Berkey’s test results, the filter removes up to 98.9% of PFAS.
The Berkey Fluoride filter is designed specifically for fluoride removal and doesn’t remove PFAS.
📖 How do Berkey Filters Remove PFAS?
So, how are Berkey filters designed, and how does this design make them capable of reducing PFAS?
Berkey hasn’t shared a lot about its filter design online, probably because it doesn’t want its competitors to copy its processes.
What we do know is that the Black Berkey filters combine a 5-blend media with a carbon composite made from coconut shells.
Coconut shell carbon is a popular type of activated carbon filter media and is recommended by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as the best suited treatment to reduce PFAS chemicals. Carbon filtration uses a physical and chemical process called adsorption, which grabs onto contaminants and pulls them into the filter’s porous surface.
It helps that Berkey produces filtered water with gravity filtration. The longer the contact time between water and the filter media, the greater the contaminant removal.
However, even carbon filters can’t remove all types of PFAS from water. There are tens of PFAS chemicals, and shorter-chain PFAS don’t adsorb as well.
🧐 Are Berkey Filters Certified To Remove PFAS?
No, Berkey filters aren’t officially certified to remove PFAS.
The NSF/ANSI certification for filters that can remove PFAS is Standard P473. Filters must undergo extensive testing to prove their contaminant removal capabilities, and the NSF only awards certifications to filters that meet NSF standards for structure, performance, and more.
Berkey distributors claim the manufacturer hasn’t applied for NSF certifications because the certification process is “very cost prohibitive” for what is being tested. The manufacturer also says that its products remove more contaminants than are tested for by the NSF. Still, we think many customers would find an official NSF certification more reassuring than third-party testing alone.
🧫 What Other Contaminants Do Berkey Filters Remove?
Aside from PFAS, what else do Black Berkey purification elements remove?
A Berkey countertop filter system removes 200+ contaminants. These include:
- Volatile organic compounds
- Heavy metals like lead and copper
- Disinfection byproducts
- Some microorganisms
- Fluoride (with fluoride filters)
- Arsenic (with fluoride filters)
Berkey has shared test results to support its contaminant removal claims, but has obtained no NFS certifications for its filter performance.
🔎 Which Types of Filters Are Best for PFAS Reduction?
So, we know that Berkey water filtration systems are capable of removing PFOA and PFOS. But what other water filters can remove PFAS?
You can use any quality granular activated carbon (GAC) filter to reduce forever chemicals, including other countertop filters, water filter pitchers, under-sink systems, and carbon-based whole home filters.
Reverse osmosis filters are our other top recommended method of reducing PFAS. A reverse osmosis system reduces up to 99.9% of all total dissolved solids, including PFOS and PFOA. Reverse osmosis systems are most commonly used for point of use filtration.
❔ Do Berkey Water Filters Remove PFAS? FAQ
Does a Berkey filter out PFAS?
Yes, according to independent testing, a Berkey water filter is capable of filtering out almost all PFAS (up to 99.9%) from drinking water. If you want to be 100% certain of your Berkey filter’s PFAS removal abilities, conduct a water test before and after filtering your water and compare the results.
What chemicals does Berkey filter remove?
Some of the chemical contaminants that Berkey filters can remove include PFAS (such as PFOS and PFOA), disinfection byproducts, and some pesticides and herbicides.
Why are PFAS dangerous in water?
PFAS have a number of known serious health risks in drinking water, including reproductive effects, increased risk of some cancers, immune effects, developmental delays, hormonal interference, and increased cholesterol levels. If your water is contaminated with PFAS, it may also indicate that there are other contaminants present that could have their own effects on the human body.