Danish Consumer Council: PFAS filter suppliers “basically trying to scare consumers into buying their product”

1. februar kl. 11:02
Danish Consumer Council: PFAS filter suppliers “basically trying to scare consumers into buying their product”
Consumer-friendly or playing on people’s fears? Stories about PFAS have created a market for filters that can be installed at home in the kitchen, but is that really necessary—and ethically sound? Illustration: Bigstock.
The PFAS scandal has created a boom in the marketing of water filters for home use, but the Danish Consumer Council criticizes, among other things, an advertising copy saying that you “have to do something about PFAS now if you want to live a healthy life with your family”. The company behind the advertisement rejects the criticism.
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“Aquaporin removes PFAS from your drinking water: the A20 series takes water filtration to a new level.”

This is one of the increasing number of press releases and advertisements sent out in the wake of the many PFAS stories in the Danish media—and the resulting concern.

This press release claims that a new partnership allegedly “can help ensure that PFAS is removed from domestic drinking water”.

But if you ask the Danish Consumer Council’s chemicals department, project manager Christel Søgaard Kirkeby advises people not to overreact.

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“I think we should be critical of water filters for home use. Are they really needed? The quality of drinking water in Denmark is generally good,” Christel Kirkeby says.

Risk of filtering beneficial substances such as calcium

In the water sector, the prevalent opinion is that a small filter in a private home can only in extremely rare cases filter as well as the filtering technologies at a waterworks.

Christel Kirkeby shares this sentiment:

“One must especially consider whether the product works, whether there is a risk of filtering beneficial substances in the water such as calcium, which is good for our bones—or in the worst case whether the product adds unwanted chemicals,” she says.

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One place where such filters might make a positive difference is the at least 40,000 private water boreholes with very little water control.

To everyone else, Christel Kirkeby says that “if you are in doubt about your water quality, you can check the analysis reports from your local water supply”.

Marketing that crosses the line

She has also come across an advertisement posted on Facebook by Aquaporin (see below), jumping on the PFAS bandwagon and saying that “if you want to live a healthy life with your family, you have to do something about it now”, and that “drinking contaminated drinking water is one of the primary reasons for concern”.

It may be on the verge of breaching marketing regulations, because it cannot be documented that such a product is necessary in private homes for families to live a healthy life, and because Danish drinking water is predominantly clean.

“I think they cross the line in marketing. Drinking water is not our biggest source of PFAS, and the advertisement almost tries to scare consumers into buying their product,” Christel Kirkeby says.

Aquaporin: Our contribution to solving the global challenge

In an email reply to WaterTech, Aquaporin’s CEO Matt Boczkowski wrote:

“We recognize that the drinking water quality is generally good in Denmark—but we also believe that PFAS poses a health problem. Denmark generally has well-functioning municipal water treatment, but it has not been proven that it effectively removes PFAS. Our water filtration solution is thus a supplement to municipal water purification.”

Matt Boczkowski refers to PFAS expert and professor of toxicology Lisbeth E. Knudsen, who, among others, has stated that the Danish drinking water “unfortunately is not that clean anymore, because the industry’s and the public sector’s years-long use of PFAS has caused it to seep into our groundwater,” and that “a lifetime PFAS exposure adds up to a lot of toxic fluorine substances in our body, which we would prefer to avoid”.

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Aquaporin’s CEO emphasizes that they “want to give the consumer the option to make an active choice and ensure drinking water of the desired quality”.

“Aarhus University has tested our water filter, and their results show that the water filter removes more than 99.9% of all pollutants in tap water, including PFAS. At the same time, the study shows that carbon filters, which many Danish households use, do not filter the PFAS out of the water well enough. The technology we have developed is our contribution to solving the global challenge we face when it comes to clean and healthy drinking water,” Matt Boczkowski writes and adds:

“We are making sure to comply with the Commercial Practices Act at all times, and we continuously evaluate the messages we use.”

WaterTech has asked the Consumer Ombudsman to assess whether Aquaporin’s Facebook advertisement is in line with the marketing rules.

Here is Aquaporin’s Facebook post:

Illustration: Aquaporin/Facebook screenshot.

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