Ask the Expert
Whole house carbon filtration
Question: We are in the process of buying a new home inan area where chlorinated water will be our water source. We do not want to use the chlorinated water in our home. Is there a “whole house purification” system that will allow us to filter out the chlorine before it comes into the house, by either putting a filter on the incoming line, or other means? We were in Southern California last winter at a Home Building Show, and I thought I remembered seeing a booth that advertised such a product. Unfortunately, I did not get a brochure. Any assistance you can give will be most appreciated.
Answer: The simple answer to your question is yes. You’re looking for a whole house carbon filter. There are backwashable tanks of granular activated carbon (GAC) or other specialized filtration media (such as KDF) that will remove the chlorine from the incoming water to your house at the point of entry (POE). Some water softeners even incorporate carbon beds for that very reason. A silver impregnated GAC will be more resistant to microbial growth in the carbon bed. Keep in mind, that carbon also removes a number of other contaminants aside from chlorine that contribute to undesirable tastes and odors. Contact your local water treatment professional dealer.
The lowdown on POU & UV
Question: Please excuse this intrusion, but I make this contact to ask for help. Waterlogic International is a UK-based manufacturer of ‘point-of-use’ water drinking systems, and I’m seeking information on the market around the globe. I’m particularly interested in facts and figures on issues such as ‘point-of-use’ market penetration against water coolers/bottles. Also any information on the importance of UV, filtration and where the market will be in the future? What are the major changes anticipated? Any such information related to the USA and other corners of the world will be very useful. Thanks in anticipation,
Wembley, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Answer: We don’t really have a crystal ball on specific industry segments such as this, but there are a few things that have happened in recent years that give some indication of UV’s future. For one, the U.S. patent that Calgon Carbon Corp. was awarded last year regarding effectiveness of medium-pressure UV on inactivation of Cryptosporidium is very significant. We have not followed up on whether Calgon was able to extend that patent to low-pressure UV applications as it was attempting to do, last we heard. The implications are tremendous with respect to whether other companies are ever required to pay royalties to Calgon Carbon on technology that has been in use for some time, although its efficacy against protozoan cysts was only confirmed in recent years. Secondly, considering regulatory concern over disinfection by-products (DBPs), UV’s star has risen sharply in recent years while ozone’s has dimmed somewhat. This is partly because of studies showing UV’s efficacy at lower doses than previously thought were necessary for inactivating pathogens. It’s also because of formation of the DBP bromate in waters containing the natural organic bromide ion when treated with ozone. While regulatory rules did not take a harder line on this particular DBP (actually relaxing proposed lowering of maximum contaminant levels allowed), concern over public response to any DBPs has made UV a more popular option, particularly for bottled water plants where it’s more difficult to control bromate formation currently because of sporadic production cycles. With municipal applications, where treatment is continuous, both UV and ozone are considered viable options. There has been a lot of activity as a result with corporate acquisitions of UV technology firms, such as in the United States by Germany’s WEDECO and the United Kingdom’s Severn Trent (through a U.S. subsidiary). Companies that focus on disinfection techniques see UV as one of the tools they need in their arsenal for providing clients with water quality improvement solutions. The International Ultraviolet Association may offer more specific data. For more general market information, we would point you to the Water Quality Association, which publishes a biennial National Consumer Water Quality Survey, or Zenith International, which does market research in the European arena (with particular focus on coolers and bottled water).
Essential minerals in the water?
Question: I am selling small RO drinking water systems for the household market. Sometimes, my customers claim that RO units are not healthy since they remove almost all essential minerals for the human body from the water. What are your comments? Can you advise me any literature where I can find detailed information. Thanks in advance.
Alarko Carrier Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.
Answer: While it’s true reverse osmosis will remove calcium and other necessary (as well as unnecessary) minerals from the drinking water supply, it has been well documented that, for people with a normal food intake, it’s completely unnecessary to use drinking water as the source of essential minerals. In other words, most people get more than their daily requirement of minerals from the food they eat, which makes eating a healthy diet essential. As we’ve often said, if you relied upon drinking water for your recommended daily allowance of minerals and vitamins, you’d have to drink 5,000 or more glasses of water. In other words, you’d drown. Consumption of low TDS water—water with few total dissolved solids—has no measurable if any effect on health. You need to speak with the company you’re working for and get them to provide you with literature from your RO system supplier that refutes these other claims and allows you to properly explain this to your customers. Your company needs to be informed about this common consumer question. Other sales people are likely facing the same question, so the company needs to cover this in a blanket communication to its entire staff.
Science fair query
Question: Hi, my name is Nick i live in Oklahoma. I am 14 years old. I looked at your site and could use some help… I didn’t get to look for long so this might be a stupid question… I am doing a science fair project on “water purification” on three different kinds of bottled water and tap water. I will test them. Do you have any sites or anything that I could use to find information on this topic. Thank you
Answer: There are lots of websites you can refer to for help in your project. The International Bottled Water Association’s website is www.bottledwater.org and would be a good place to start. It can provide you with an explanation of the different types of bottled water, regulatory differences and market statistics. Texas and California also have large state associations (see www.tbwa.org and www.cbwa.org). And there’s a European and Asian chapter (www.ebwa.org and www.ibwasia.org) as well. For bottled water trends, you can also see www.bottledwaterweb.com. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/qa-ind4c.html) and various state agencies. A large percentage of bottled water actually is retreated city municipal water. To know more about the quality of your local water, call your municipal drinking water supplier and ask for chemical analysis data sheet for your water. The Safe Drinking Water Act Reauthorization of 1996 requires that they get this information and give it to you in an annual consumer confidence report, often referred to simply as a “water quality report.” It may even be posted on the utility’s website with more frequent updates.