The Difficulty:There is now considerably heightened Concern about Drinking Water Quality by many people in North America. A report in USA Today (September 2, 1999) indicates that it is known that only 12% of the violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act are reported to the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS).
Chemical and Bilogical Contaminants: There are issues of chemical contamination such as the presence of MTBE – a gasoline additive and a serious contaminant now found to be almost everywhere in the water supplies. There are concerns as to the potent little cryptosporidium cyst which defies the activity of chlorine (crypto caused 400,000 people in Milwaukee to sicken in the late 1990s – and, several hundred died) and is present in many surface water supplies. In May of 2000 hundreds of people in Walkerton, Ontario became sickened and a number died from the presence of E.coli in their drinking water supplies. As well, the chlorine itself that is used to kill micro-organisms at the water treatment facilities has been linked by studies to be a carcinogen. In addition, its presence in the water supply – in reaction with certain organic compounds – produces trihalomethanes, (THM) another suspected carcinogen.
Poor Taste and Appearance marks most tap drinking water at best. There are usually chlorine odors or musty, earthy tastes. The water frequently appears turbid and cloudy. Part of the difficulty is that the infrastructure (the water pipes) that is in place to deliver the water to the home or office, in most instances, has been there for years. It is aging, and gradually breaking down. Lead in old joints, asbestos, rust, dirt particles and other contaminants simply reduce the water quality further.
Bottled water? Bottled water is used by many as an alternative to tap water and, while the quality of some bottled water is good, some bottled water is little better than ordinary tap water. In a four-year test of 103 brands of bottled water a report released in late 1999 stated that “a third of the tested brands contained bacteria or other chemicals exceeding the industry’s own guidelines or the most stringent state purity standards.” One of the authors of the report said that “Just because water comes from a bottle doesn’t mean it’s any cleaner or safer than what comes from the tap.”
To balance the above, the study found that most bottled water was of “good” quality. Thus, 3.4 billion gallons of bottle water annually are consumed in this country — many consumers refuse to drink the tap water and settle for the next best choice — bottled water. And yet, as the studies now show, the bottled water industry is essentially unregulated, leading back to initial questions — i.e., how “good” actually is the water from the tap or the bottled water supply, and, how “safe” is “safe”? As well, bottled water average costs are $1.00/gallon – considerably higher than the average 20-cents/gallon for good filtered water. Are there any viable alternatives?
Point-of-Use (POU) Drinking Water System: One of the fastest growing alternatives to the uncertainties surrounding both tap and bottled water is to use your own POU (Point-Of-Use) DWS (Drinking Water System). While whole-house systems are available, the simplest method of ensuring truly good-quality drinking water is to take the water that is coming into your house or office and purify it through a high-quality DWS. While there are different types of DWS for home and office use, and a considerable array of manufacturers presenting products proclaiming results of first quality water, the knowledgeable consumer can find help in sorting through these claims.
NSF Ratings: First, NSF, an independent laboratory that is the industry agency for rating DWS, can provide ratings for the manufacturers that submit their products for testing. Beware the company that has no NSF rating at all — a good NSF rating is coveted and completely reliable, and questions can be raised regarding a company that does not submit their products to NSF.
Installation: What is involved in the installation of a DWS? It is quite simple, actually. Usually, a compact filter system will install under a kitchen sink — or, it can go in a basement, etc. with no trouble — in about forty-five minutes. It can be done by a handy homeowner; or, a plumber will be happy to install it. Normally, a smaller, secondary faucet dedicated to the DWS use is located on top of the sink and, with a quality system, safe, crystal clear, delightful tasting water is instantly available for drinking (fill a jug up and take it on the job, on the airline, or to the picnic or to the beach!), for ice cubes, for coffee and tea, cooking, etc. As well, such a system can be easily connected to a refrigerator ice cube maker or water chiller, or an expresso or coffee maker.
A good system will filter the water over 99% to at least one micron size — this removes parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia cysts, as well as lead, rust and a host of other contaminants. If the DWS will not remove THMs and/or cryptosporidium cysts it is not trustworthy! A good system will also remove VOC’s including THM’s. It will also eliminate chlorine and its taste, odors, fishy or musty flavors, turbidity — in short, the water will be delightful! At least one system today also utilizes the wonderful benefits of ozone and ultraviolet light to actually destroy micro- organisms and to break down and either reduce or eliminate chemicals, etc.
The cost? The estimates are that high-quality drinking water in the home or office from a good DWS averages ten to twenty cents a gallon — a very small price to invest to help ensure the health of the family or co- workers.
Please “Click” here to connect to our webpage on Suggestions on Water Purification Systems.