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Topics covered on my website:

I developed this website to provide a comprehensive resource for those who are searching for information about: drinking water safety, quality, and effective treatment methods; common drinking water contaminants and their health consequences; and tools to avoid the countless marketing scams perpetuated on the unwary. 

Overall, the United States and most developed countries have very safe public water supplies.  Regulations and enforcement policies require treated water to meet quality standards designed to significantly reduce levels of contaminants that can cause health problems, both immediate and long term.  Depending on the source water quality, different strategies are used to remove as many harmful contaminants as feasible and provide water that can be distributed to the public without significant re-contamination.  This is a fairly simple example of the basic process.

Consequently, there is very little risk of any individual experiencing harmful health effects from drinking tap water in countries with effective regulations and reliable water treatment programs.  Reliably safe water and little risk, however, does not mean zero risk.  Contaminants remaining after water treatment or picked up from the distribution pipes or from home plumbing can increase health risks slightly.  Rare, localized accidents and treatment failures can also temporarily increase contaminant levels.  Required levels of residual disinfectants can cause taste and odor problems in some cities.

A drinking water treatment system certified to reduce those contaminants that remain in your tap water can provide an extra level of protection and almost completely eliminate any health risks.  Everyone has different levels of risk tolerance.  Mine is fairly high, but as discussed elsewhere, there were three concerns that prompted my wife and me to research water treatment systems in 1996 - possible lead contamination from our old plumbing (The word plumbing is derived from the Latin plumbum for lead), a desire to remove disinfection byproducts and an interest in providing protection against accidents. 

If you decide purchase a water treatment system, first you need to understand which contaminants are in your water.  If you are on municipal (public) water, most water companies are required to provide an annual water quality report that will list contaminant levels and provide other useful information about your drinking water. EPA, NSF, EWG As described on my website every treatment choice - whether it is for a city or a home - has outcomes that consist of benefits, costs, and risks.

In addition to understanding your water quality, consider these six suggestions (no Java) before purchasing a water treatment system.  As described on my website every treatment choice - whether it is for a city or a home - has outcomes that consist of benefits, costs, and risks.  The goal is to make those choices so benefits are maximized for the most people, risks are minimized and costs are manageable.

There are three main point of use water treatment methods - Each process has benefits, costs and limitations that must be balanced.  No treatment method is 100% effective at removing contaminants, although distillation is close.
- Distillation is the most effective method to reduce inorganic, biological and most organic contaminants.  It is also the slowest, most expensive treatment method and requires electricity or other energy source to boil the water.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) is effective against most inorganic, biological and many organic contaminants but requires activated carbon to reduce some organics.  RO requires water pressure, is fairly slow and typically wastes more water than it treats.
- Solid Block Activated Carbon (SBAC) is usually the least expensive water treatment process and does not require electricity or high water pressure.  It significantly reduces chlorine, a wide variety of organic contaminants like disinfection byproducts and can be designed to reduce levels of some inorganic chemicals like lead and arsenic. 

SBAC is ineffective against a number of dissolved inorganic contaminants like salts (e.g. nitrates), iron, fluoride, aluminum, calcium, etc., and is not recommended for reduction of bacteria or viruses.  Read this page to understand what taste (salty, metallic or bitter) and odor (fishy or sewage) clues indicate when activated carbon filtration might not be effective.  Other forms of Activated Carbon (Granular Activated Carbon, for example) are not as effective as SBAC because the pore size is larger and not as uniform.

The three treatment methods above are effective at reducing a wide array of different contaminants.  Other water treatment methods described on this page are effective, but they will reduce levels of a smaller range of specific contaminants and are often combined with one of the methods above to enhance overall effectiveness. 
There are no federal regulations regarding the effectiveness or design of water treatment products.  The FTC has created "truth in advertising" rules, but they apparently are not enforced except in extreme circumstances.  Consequently, the Internet is a minefield of unsubstantiated claims, and it is your responsibility to ensure that all marketing claims are valid for any water treatment product purchased.
Careful selection of water treatment products certified by NSF or WQA provides assurance that water treatment claims are valid.  You will find many vendors of water treatment products that provide no 'proof' of effectiveness besides claims made in their marketing materials - no independent validation of claims.  You will also find products with claims that they have been tested to NSF standards - that's very different from NSF certified and essentially meaningless.
You may encounter a subtle form of marketing scam where a door-to-door sales person shows up to 'test' the safety of your tap water - or you may sign up for a 'free home water test'.  The sales representative may or may not be selling a legitimate product, but they will almost certainly employ a variety of chemical tricks and slick explanations to demonstrate how easily absorbed and dangerous chlorine is, how dissolved minerals can be precipitated to form an unhealthy-looking sludge, and present other demonstrations designed to showcase the alleged dangers of your tap water.  These revelations may appear convincing, but they are almost certainly smoke and mirror illusions carefully designed to trick you into spending several thousand dollars on a water treatment system you don't need.
Many water treatment products are marketed with claims that the physical or chemical properties of water have been altered to create a molecule or cluster of molecules with special healing properties.  These products may appear to work because of the Placebo Effect, and there may be numerous passionate and compelling Testimonials of effectiveness.  However, I have searched carefully over the years, and I have never seen any evidence that the alleged processes have any effect on water molecules or that the resulting product is anything more than an ovten very expensive placebo.