Monthly Archives: July 2022

Five Chemicals Were Added to Screening and Removal Processes, Is Your Facility Prepared?

On June 15th, the EPA added five new chemicals to their list of chemicals that federal, state, and local agencies must monitor for at Superfund sites across the U.S. Superfund sites are sites in the U.S. that are contaminated in some way, often it’s where manufacturing sites, landfills, or mines created tremendous pollution in the soil and groundwater. 

In the 1980s, the U.S. Congress established the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act requiring responsible parties to clean up their sites or pay the EPA to clean them. If the company or responsible parties are no longer in business or alive, the Superfund money is used in the clean-up.

In addition, the EPA is making it known that the goal is to get these chemicals out of public water sources as part of a plan to make drinking water across the nation safer for everyone. States and territories are advised to apply for grants to address these five chemicals.

These chemicals have carcinogenic potential, and it’s believed they could increase the risk of cancer for animals and humans. They also have non-cancerous effects, such as damage to the liver, the kidneys, and the immune system. By lowering exposure, it can help lower the risk of chronic health conditions that drive up healthcare costs and shorten a person’s longevity.

Several studies have come to light that have raised concern. One is that children exposed to these chemicals are not building immunities to diseases like diphtheria and tetanus after vaccines. Exposure to GenX chemicals is causing lesions on the livers of mice, and pregnant mice are giving birth to babies with deficient thyroxine levels, which causes thyroid disease. 

In order to lower exposure to them, the EPA is setting its sights on removing as much of them as possible in drinking water, which in turn can lower the amount found in foods that are processed or contain water. 

What does this mean for you? It may not mean anything. But, industrial and food processing plants may need to take a closer look to see if their industrial wastewater systems are ready to monitor for these chemicals. Down the road, water treatment plants may need to start monitoring and removing them, too.

What Are the Five Additions?

Several chemicals are already monitored, but some were created more recently or have avoided careful monitoring. So, what are these GenX chemicals and PFAs that the EPA is asking to closely monitor? Why are they being watched? 

Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA)

HFPO-DA is not biodegradable. It’s found in food packaging, carpets, fabrics, and foams used to put out fires. Once it’s in water, it’s there until filtration removes it. Some states are being proactive and adding HFPO-DA to their drinking water standards. 

For example, Wisconsin has a recommended level of 300 ppt. Michigan set standards to 370 ppt in 2020. North Carolina found higher levels of it in surface and drinking water around Cape Fear River and established drinking water goals as a result.

Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) 

PFOs date back to the 1940s when 3M started making them, and they became a key component of Scotchgard. When they were found in human blood samples in the 1960s, it was first believed it was a related chemical. But, in the 1990s, PFOs were found in donated blood in blood banks. It wasn’t until 2000 that the chemical started to get phased out in the U.S.

It’s a problem as even wastewater treatment methods are unable to break down PFOs. They just don’t degrade. 

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

The use of PFOA dwindled in 2002, but until then, it was widely used as a binder for coatings like Teflon or paint products designed to resist stains, oil, and water. As they resist water and heat, they don’t degrade.

One study looked at more than 2,000 people’s blood samples; almost every sample had PFOAs in the blood. The effects on health are ongoing, but some studies found that lab animals that were given large amounts suffered liver damage. 

Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)

PFNAs are surfactants found in everyday items such as cosmetics. They don’t degrade and are showing up in the blood of animals and humans. As a result, some states are starting to ban their use or require drinking water standards. 

In 2020, California banned the use of PFNAs in cosmetics. That same year, New Jersey became the first state to set drinking water standards to 14 ppt. A couple of months later, Michigan set a level of 8 ppt, though the U.S. EPA hadn’t set any requirements yet.

Perfluorohexane Sulfonic acid (PFHxS)

This is the most common of all the synthetic chemicals known as PFASs. It’s been banned in many areas, but it’s still showing up in the environment. It was found in fire-fighting foams, textiles, metal coatings, and polishes. 

The U.S. hasn’t set limits as of 2019, but states are taking it into their own hands. Minnesota was one of the first, aiming for 27 ppt. Michigan set their limit of 51 ppt in 2020.

What States Do Regulate These Chemicals?

Just because the EPA hasn’t taken action yet doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. These states have limits in place for public drinking water.

  • Alaska – PFOS and PFOA 
  • California – PFOA and PFOS 
  • Colorado – PFOA and PFOS
  • Connecticut – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFHpA
  • Delaware – PFOA and PFOS
  • Maine – PFOA and PFOS
  • Massachusetts – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, PFHpA, and PFDA
  • Michigan – PFNA, PFOA, PFOS, HFPO-DA, PFBS, and PFHxA
  • Minnesota – PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFBS, and PFBA 
  • New Hampshire – PFOA, PFOS, and PFHxS
  • New Jersey – PFNA, PFOS, and PFOA
  • New Mexico – PFOA and PFOS
  • New York – PFOA and PFAS 
  • North Carolina – GenX
  • Ohio – PFNA, PFHxS, PFOS, PFOA, GenX, and PBFS
  • Vermont – PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFHpA

You may already be in a state where you have to work with the limits state agencies have set. Not every state has policies though. What if you don’t. What does this mean for your water treatment plant?

Right now, these are advisories. Monitoring these contaminants is helping shape policies on lowering them to treated water. Those policies are expected to come out in the fall. Will your wastewater or public water treatment plant need to take measures to better clean the water? It’s almost a certainty that that will come next. More will be known in the fall when new guidelines come out. 

Until then, the government released money to help towns and cities improve their infrastructure. Take advantage of these grants and start looking toward the future. Systems with the best filtration methods will find more of these chemicals get removed and lead to safe water for everyone in their region.

Lakeside Equipment can help you look at your existing water treatment plant and see if there are ways to improve efficiency, performance, and save money on energy bills. Reach out to us to discuss what you wish you could change about your current system. Our engineers are happy to talk about ways to save money and improve performance.

How Is Wastewater Treated Around the World?

Have you ever wondered how wastewater treatment is completed around the world? Only 56% of wastewater around the world went through safe water treatment steps before its release into rivers, lakes, etc. It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s wastewater never goes through any treatment. It’s the United Nations’ goal to improve the rate of wastewater treatment by 2030.

Treating wastewater correctly is essential for preventing disease. Hepatitis A is just one of many diseases that can be contracted through exposure to untreated wastewater. E. Coli, Encephalitis, Giardiasis, Poliomyelitis, Salmonellosis, and Typhoid Fever are examples of others, though there are dozens of viruses that people can get when swimming or bathing in infected waters.

In the United States, wastewater treatment is a multi-stage process. Wastewater flows into a plant through sewer lines or is trucked in after being pumped from residential septic tanks.

Most wastewater districts start by screening wastewater to remove debris like plastic wrappers, toys, animals, bone fragments, and personal care products. Those items are removed and sent to landfills. Grit removal takes out smaller particles like coffee grounds and sand.

Pumps transfer wastewater to the next stage where the wastewater is aerated using bubblers to provide oxygen to the mixture. From here, it moves into sedimentation tanks where sludge sinks to the bottom for removal and processing in digesters. Oils and fats rise to the top and are raked from the surface where they join sludge in digesters.

The materials in digesters are processed for weeks to remove bacteria, odors, and disease-causing organisms. Once the material has been in digesters for enough time, it’s hauled to landfills or dried to use as fertilizer in areas like national forests.

Some cities use filtration through substances like coconut fibers or carbon to help clean the majority of the bacteria from the remaining wastewater. What’s left goes to tanks where chemicals, such as chlorine, are added to kill any remaining bacteria.

Once this is done, it may sit in tanks for exposure to UV lighting that removes excessive chlorine. When the chlorine reaches the required levels for release, wastewater is pumped from tanks into local bodies of water like rivers and lakes.

That’s a quick look at the stages of wastewater treatment in the U.S. Our nation’s wastewater treatment plants benefit from modern technology and computer systems that help control flow rates, check water quality throughout each stage of wastewater treatment, and lower energy costs. How is wastewater treated in other countries?


Ecuador is one of South America’s wealthier countries, but almost 75% of the water sources below 9,186 feet are polluted. The reason is tied to wastewater that goes untreated. It’s estimated that only 10% of the wastewater generated undergoes treatment before being discharged to the Daule-Guayas River.

To stop this level of pollution from continuing, the city of Guayaquil asked for a line of credit and assistance from other countries to improve the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant’s infrastructure. The plans are to connect around 30,000 homes and apartments to the current sewer system. Improving the La Chala sewer to prevent leaks and adding a pumping station to the existing treatment plant are other project goals. Goals are to complete the project within three years.


Ethiopia’s wastewater treatment goals are unique in that the country is very hot and arid. About six out of ten homes have toilets, but many of these toilets pipe directly to a backyard pit latrine.

With a population of over 61 million people, the country’s biggest concern is having enough water. In 2021, plans to build a chemical-free wastewater and sludge treatment plant that would recycle wastewater to homes in Addis Ababa, the capital city. Once completed, the plant will be able to process almost 4,000 gallons per day.


If you think of countries that are underserved by wastewater treatment, India likely comes to mind. In 2016, about 38,000 million liters of wastewater were generated per day, but only 31.5% of that wastewater was treated properly. The steps taken in wastewater treatment are the same as those used in the U.S., but there are several other issues that arise. One is that half of all Indian homes lack working toilets. For those that do, their wastewater travels into sewage systems that are poorly staffed and lack skilled workers.

Even if cities have wastewater treatment plants, wastewater ends up being discharged prior to treatment due to poor operation and maintenance processes due to staffing issues and poorly trained operators. Frequent power interruptions add to the issues. Some towns and cities simply cannot afford to build and run wastewater treatment systems.


While Japan has more than 200 inhabited islands, most of the country’s 126.4 million people live on one of the four main islands.

  • Honshu – The largest with a population of 104 million and home to Tokyo, the island’s capital and largest city.
  • Hokkaido – The second largest with a population of over 5 million with Sapporo being both the capital and the island’s largest city.
  • Kyushu – The third largest island has more than 14 million residents. Fukuoka is the largest city on the island with over 1.6 million residents.
  • Shikoku – This is the smallest of the four major islands with a population of over 4 million. The largest city on this island is Matsuyama, which has just over half a million residents.

The risk of earthquakes, flooding during tsunamis, and proximity to water make wastewater treatment an urgency. The Sewerage Law of Japan lays forth strict criteria that prefectures must abide by when it comes to building homes and businesses, connecting new households to sewer systems, and setting up packaged aerated wastewater treatment systems known as johkasous or small-scale sewage systems in rural areas.

Kobe City has a public sewer system connecting to six wastewater treatment plants that serve 98.7% of the population. During the treatment process, biogas is captured and distributed to homes and businesses in the region through Osaka Gas.

Just outside of Tokyo, the city of Saitama serves about 92% of its residents through a wastewater treatment plant. The remaining 8% rely on a johkasou. Sludge removal is a primary step in wastewater treatment. As Japan has little space for landfills, sludge must be transported to sludge treatment plants in Japan where it is processed and recycled as plant fertilizer.

Saitama does one more thing to help the island’s natural resources. About 70% of the city’s water comes from area rivers. With climate change and population changes impacting water supplies, the area’s wastewater and storm runoff are collected, processed, and cleaned at the Saitama Shintoshin Purification plant. Once clean, the water is returned to homes and businesses through pipelines.

For a wastewater treatment plant to work effectively and efficiently, plant owners and managers need to make sure equipment is maintained regularly and upgraded when possible. It’s not advantageous to wait until pumps break down or equipment fails.

Talk to Lakeside Equipment about your plant’s equipment, capacity, and age. Our experts can help you better understand the ways you can boost efficiency and ensure your system doesn’t fail as weather patterns and populations change.