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Posted 3/25/08

New public opinion survey: Pharmaceuticals in drinking water concern two thirds of Americans

Press Release - WQA - March 25, 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — According to a scientific survey conducted nationwide for the Water Quality Association, a large majority of Americans are concerned about the presense of pharmaceutical products in their drinking water.

More than half of Americans say they are now planning to purchase home filtration devices in the future, the poll showed.

The random sample survey, conducted March 15-18 by Applied Research-West, Inc., has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. It follows a January opinion poll on general water concerns, providing an opportunity to compare public opinion before and after news reports about pharamceuticals in water.

“Americans are increasingly aware of potential problems in the water they drink,” said Pete Censky, executive director of WQA.

Censky said it is important for people to understand potential solutions to their concerns, including an understanding of what different technologies are capable of doing. The results of the survey are being announced at the association’s annual convention and trade show — WQA Aquatech USA — at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, March 26-28.

The survey found that 45 percent of respondents feel very concerned and 23 percent somewhat concerned about pharmaceuticals in their water. More than 80 percent were aware of news reports on the issue.

Overall, just over two-thirds of Americans — 67 percent — are generally concerned about the quality of their household water supply. In the January poll, 55 expressed such concern. Similarly, in January Americans believed by 48 to 41 percent that their drinking water is “as safe as it should be.” In the March poll only 39 percent believed this, while 50 percent disagreed.

The percentage of those stating that the primary responsibility for safe drinking water lies in the home appeared to increase. In January, respondents stated by a 52 percent margin that primary responsibility lies outside the home with their municipality, as oppose to inside the home with water treatment products. In the current survey, that margin is reduced to 44 percent.

Seventy percent said they believe that home filtration plays a role, along with their muncipality, in ensuring safe drinking water.

While utilities are required to meet safety standards set by the U.S. EPA, home filtering systems act as a final contaminant barrier and can further purify water for drinking, Censky said.

Specific product performance standards have not yet been developed for pharmaceuticals, he said, but many point-of-use technologies have proven effective for some of these emerging contaminants. Nano-filtration and reverse osmosis systems removed drugs tested by the Colorado School of Mines at full-scale facilities in Arizona and California. Activated carbon, distillation, ozonation, and advanced oxidization have likewise shown promise in removing many of these contaminants.

WQA provides Gold Seal certification for products that remove a variety of contaminants. This certification is conducted using independently developed testing standards. Consumers can learn about different treatment systems and find locally certified dealers by visiting the WQA Web site’s Gold Seal and Find A Professional features.

Full poll results are below. A fact sheet on pharmaceuticals in water and the association’s Water Information Library are also online at WQA’s Web site.

WQA is a non-profit association that provides public information about water treatment issues and also trains and certifies professionals to better serve consumers. WQA has more than 2,500 members nationwide.

Below are results of two telephone opinion poll surveys conducted for the Water Quality Association. Results given in percentages.

1. Overall, how concerned are you about the quality


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