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Drinking Water Treatability Database Update Tackles PFAS


  • EPA needed to expand its drinking water treatability database.
  • Abt conducted literature research focused on treating PFAS.
  • The results are being used to estimate the cost of removing PFAS from drinking water.
The Challenge

EPA’s Office of Research and Development needed to expand its online, publicly available Drinking Water Treatability Database (TDB). The goal was to allow the database to better support decision making about emerging contaminants of concern.

The Approach

Abt conducted a literature search to identify treatability data for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Using these data, we updated the TDB to include drinking water treatment technology effectiveness data for 37 different PFAS compounds.

The Results

The recently added PFAS data is available online via the TDB.  Building directly on our PFAS research for the TDB, Abt also is updating EPA’s models for estimating the cost of drinking water treatment. The models—which are available to the public—are Excel spreadsheets that can be used to estimate treatment technology costs based on user inputs, such as system design and average flows, target contaminant and raw water quality. We are currently in the process of revising the models for granular activated carbon, ion exchange and reverse osmosis to so they can be used to estimate the cost of PFAS removal in public water supply and remediation applications.

The TDB gives EPA the ability to direct stakeholders to a single source they can use to, among other things:

  • Identify effective drinking water treatment processes,
  • Plan for future treatment plant upgrades and
  • Respond to spills or emergencies.