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Municipal Water Quality and Home Water Filtration

Home Water Filtration Faucet
How Does the EPA Set Water Quality Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency compiles a list of priority contaminants in order to research and decide whether or not to regulate. This collection of prospective materials is call the Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List(CCL). This list is constructed over many months where it is screened to include chemicals and parasites that are the most abundant or pose the greatest risk to the general public.

 

Similar to a public hearing, information and feedback is taken from many sources both public and private in order to better understand the potential impact of proposed contaminants. Lists are finalized over the course of several years to ensure proper diligence and completeness for the benefit of every citizen.

The EPA works with the National Drinking Water Advisory Council which is composed of almost two dozen members and their varied viewpoints. Each member offers recommendations to the rest of the council so that they are able to make an educated decision regarding policy, regulation and general guidance.

What Does This List Do?

It sets the suggested minimum and maximum allowable amount a chemical or organism can be present in public water supplies. New chemicals find their way into water supplies often as a result of illegal or careless dumping, manufacturing or farm run-off, etc. Studies are conducted to determine the possible effects to public health. However, that process requires contaminants to already be identified and can also be especially time consuming. All the while, these contaminants remain and are consumed by the unknowing public.

Enforcement of the suggested limitations is a completely different matter. The EPA sets federal guidelines but individual states are able to follow them or set more aggressive quality standards. Most drinking water plans are available from local Drinking Water Program as part of your Department of Public Heath or Department of Environmental Quality. Furthermore, the CCL works in conjunction with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in order to assure proper adherence.

What Can I Do to Keep My Water Clean?

Home Water Filtration Glass

While there are plenty of home water testing kits on the market, largely water comes down to personal taste. Even though municipal water is rigorously and consistently tested, the closer the water chain actually gets to you the higher the possibility of contamination.

Failures do occur in the municipal water systems. A contaminant only has to enter at one point to affect the entire supply. That can happen early or late in the system but it affects citizens just the same. For example, if municipal waters are the purest that exist on Earth, if your home has old lead piping, that lead can travel the short distance from curb to faucet and still adversely affect you. Municipal water can be screened for this, but that screening is unable to detect or prevent your old pipes from depositing material into the final leg of your water's trek.

Many different forms of whole home water filtration exist and they serve very different needs. Depending on location or circumstance, you may need to ensure that no viruses or bacteria exist in the water supply, allergies can be affected by chemicals that persist or other situations.

What Does Home Water Filtration Commonly Remove?

Depending on your situation such as living in a metropolitan area, rural area, if you use a well as a primary water supply other concerns may come into play. Below is a list of some of the common home filtration systems and how they affect drinking water.

UV Filters
These filters rely on screening water using an ultra violet light in order to kill or weaken microbiological life such as parasites or viruses. When exposed to UV light, the DNA in these organisms is damaged or destroyed effectively killing them or rendering them unable to reproduce. Molds, pathogens and bacteria are effectively controlled with UV light.

Carbon Filters
By far the most common, activated carbon filters are an effective way to remove chemical contaminants from drinking water. The "activation" means that the carbon has a positive charge to attract chemicals to the carbon's surface and trap them, preventing them from moving away and out of the filter. Contaminants such as chlorine, volatile organic compounds and sediment are quite effectively removed.

Reverse Osmosis
With the help of pressure, reverse osmosis filters force contaminants against a semipermeable membrane and forces them out of source water. Gaps in the membrane allow clean water to flow through but prevents other material from going with it. Material such as rust, salts and other total dissolved solids (TDS).

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