SOUTHEASTERN NC – A small Illinois company that has partnered with government environmental researchers in Durham has released a $45 filter that can remove PFAS and is compatible with countertop pitchers, like the Brita. The Purefast cartridge lasts approximately three months and comes with a return label to send it back to the company once used, where it safely disposes of ‘chemicals forever’ without reintroducing them into the environment.
It was first revealed in 2017 that these toxic substances were floating in the Cape Fear River, the source of drinking water in southeastern North Carolina, largely due to the chemical company’s spill in upstream Chemours. Considered a global health hazard, the extent of their adverse health effects is not yet fully understood.
Water utilities are spending millions to upgrade their systems in response to new knowledge, but these projects take years. Residents have to fund expensive home reverse osmosis systems, buy gallons at the store, or travel to free water sources in parks.
According to company CEO Frank Cassou, CylocoPure’s Purefast is the first countertop filter designed to remove PFAS from tap water. The standard Brita filter will clean drinking water of abnormal odors or tastes and remove certain particles. However, this is no match for “chemicals forever”.
A Purefast filter can provide up to 65 gallons of PFAS-free water. That’s enough to replace 700 single-use water bottles, serving a family of four for about three months.
The company made its first sale in North Carolina this week, a Leland customer, Cassou said.
“We are completely removing GenX,” he added. “We’ve done a lot of water testing across the country with our water testing kits and North Carolina is pretty much one of the exclusive places we see GenX coming to.”
The Purefast product incorporates the company’s DEXSORB+ technology, which consists of cup-shaped cyclodextrins purchased from a third-party supplier. Derived from corn, the molecular size of cyclodextrins — less than a nanometer in diameter — makes it highly selective for PFAS, Cassou said.
“They are very, very good absorbents,” Cassou explained. “People have been using them for years. They are used in Febreeze to remove odors from the air, but previously they were not available for water treatment. It was our science was to make them insoluble so they could be used in water. We took something that was naturally very absorbent and really good for small molecules, and then we made it work in water treatment.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, headquartered in Durham, has helped fund the development of the technology with $1.15 million in grants since fiscal year 2018.
“The purpose of [Superfund Research Program] The Small Business Grants Program is about creating tools that will improve people’s health,” Heather Henry, Program Manager, SRP Health Science Administrator, told the NIEHS Bulletin. “Cyclopure does just that. It is a remarkable achievement that just four years after their grant began, they have launched a product that can help communities reduce their exposure to PFAS.
In one lab, CycloPure detected zero PFAS per 65 gallons of filtered water. The company has performed testing for all 40 chemicals identified in the Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS roadmap. With the results, it earned certification from the National Sanitation Foundation International in March, approving its commercial use.
Each Purefast filter arrives in the mail with a prepaid return label and instructions for returning it to CycloPure’s lab once used. The contaminants are then converted into salts and removed.
“We have a technology here at CycloPure where we can recover any PFAS that’s in the filter and then we completely destroy it here,” Cassou said. “So there is no kind of recontamination or reintroduction into the environment.”
CycloPure’s DEXSORB is also deployed in other embodiments, such as filter papers in its $80 home water quality test kits. It is also used in refrigerator cartridges, under the sink, and in large processing facilities. In two states, the company is testing a point-of-entry system to treat all water entering a home.
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