Oct 15, 2014

Emerging Contaminants in Water Cause Health Concerns

NSF Intl. survey findings reinforce the need for water quality standard

Emerging Contaminants Drinking Water Health Concerns NSF Intl. Study

A vast majority (82%) of consumers report they are concerned about trace levels of emerging contaminants in drinking water, such as pesticides and herbicides (87%), prescription drugs (34%) and detergents (24%), according to a new survey from NSF Intl.

Emerging contaminants include some prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, flame retardants, detergents and new types of herbicides and pesticides, which have been detected at trace levels in drinking water. Although the health risks associated with trace levels of emerging contaminants are not yet well understood, their presence in drinking water at even low levels has many consumers concerned.

The survey also indicated that despite these concerns, most consumers still improperly dispose of some of these emerging contaminants by throwing unused prescription and OTC drugs in the garbage (34%) or flushing them down the toilet (19%). Only 28% said they correctly bring them to a pharmacist or clinic for disposal.

“NSF Intl.’s survey results clearly show that consumers are very aware of and concerned about emerging contaminants in drinking water. While the industry isn’t currently aware of negative health effects associated with trace levels of these contaminants, many consumers understandably want to have the highest quality drinking water possible for themselves and their family. NSF Intl. has developed a standard that tests the ability of home water treatment devices to reduce some of these emerging contaminants in drinking water,” said Rick Andrew, NSF Intl. drinking water treatment expert.

The standard, NSF/ANSI 401: Drinking Water Treatment Units — Emerging Compounds/Incidental Contaminants, evaluates the ability of water treatment devices to reduce up to 15 emerging contaminants in drinking water, including some prescription/OTC drugs, some new types of herbicides and pesticides, and chemicals used as flame retardants and detergents.

More than 56 products have already been certified to the standard by major manufacturers including 3M Purification Inc., Access Business Group LLC, Amway China Co., Aquasana Inc., Electrolux Home Products, Everpure LLC, General Electric Co., Kaz USA Inc., Kemflo/Filbur and Whirlpool Corp. Visit NSF’s certified product listings to find home water treatment devices that address selected emerging contaminants.

“NSF Intl.’s mission is to protect and improve public health, which is why we developed the NSF/ANSI 401 standard as a solution for consumers worried about emerging contaminants in their drinking water,” Andrew said. “There is still so much we don’t know about the effects of long-term exposure to these contaminants. While science and industry work to better understand emerging contaminants, consumers can rely on the certified treatment products available.”