Drinking water information: Home Water Treatment / Filtration Units

Water Treatment Units

Looking for information about  how effective home water treatment units are in removing hazardous contaminants from the drinking water?

Installation of a home water treatment system may be a feasible option for people with contaminated drinking water. However, such systems are usually considered a temporary solution due to periodic maintenance requirements, performance monitoring difficulties, and varying effectiveness with changes in the intensity and type of contamination. The only permanent solutions to water contamination problems are discontinuation of the source(s) of the contamination or finding a new drinking water source. Of course, this is generally not feasible for the local homeowner to change the water company's practices and equipment, so a form of home water treatment may be practical.  take care in choosing, many of the systems sold on the market are remarkably overpriced - especially the ones from companies that call you  at home, pushing their system.

Different types of systems are available involving different treatment technologies. The list of treatment processes includes:

 

  • simple filtration of particulates,
  • activated carbon filtration,
  • ion exchange,
  • reverse osmosis,
  • distillation,
  • chemical oxidation, and
  • UV radiation.

    No one system removes all possible contaminants and the various treatment technologies differ widely in their effectiveness in removing different classes of contaminants. For example, while activated carbon filters are efficient in removing organic compounds, pesticides, and lead, distillation effectively removes metals and microorganisms. Therefore, an important first step for the homeowner before any system is purchased is to have the drinking water analyzed. The county health department or a private laboratory can provide this analysis and public health officials can interpret these results to help the homeowner determine which treatment process is most appropriate.

    No federal, state. or local regulations govern the manufacturing or use of home water treatment units. Many different brands are available in the marketplace. To ensure some level of quality and effectiveness, certification of treatment units is carried out by independent testing laboratories such as the National Sanitation Foundation NSF). Their insignia will be evident on the packaging or individuals can contact the NSF to find out if a particular product has been certified for the use intended. Also, the Water Quality Association (WQA), a trade association of manufacturers and distributors, offers voluntary validation standards and advertising guidelines to their members. Thus, the WQA seal of approval provides another indication of product quality.

    To check on the certification or validation of a product, call the National Sanitation Foundation at 313-769-8010 or the Water Quality Association at 312-369-1600.