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More Than Half of Americans Are Concerned About Their Drinking Water, But Many Don’t Take Action

NSF survey finds gap between consumers’ concerns, knowledge and actions surrounding water safety

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Results of a new survey conducted for NSF, a global public health and safety organization, reveal that while most U.S. consumers drink tap water (71 percent) and more than half (55 percent) are concerned about contaminants in their drinking water or don’t know what’s in it, nearly half (42 percent) do not take steps to filter or treat their home’s drinking water.

The national consumer survey of 1,106 American adults found that parents are more likely to be concerned about impurities in their drinking water (61 percent), compared with those who do not have children in their household (53 percent).

“No matter where you live, it’s important to understand what’s in your water so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you need a drinking water treatment device and, if you do, which type of device is most appropriate for your situation,” said Rick Andrew, a drinking water treatment expert at NSF.

Learn More and Take Action

In the United States, one of the easiest ways to find out if there are contaminants in your tap water and how they may affect your health is through consumer confidence reports (CCRs) from your local water utility/authority. CCRs, also referred to as water quality reports, provide a snapshot of water quality in a specific city or area and detailed data regarding which contaminants have been detected in the water, the levels at which they were detected and how these levels compare to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water regulations.

The EPA requires community water systems to provide customers with an annual water quality report by July 1 of each year. If you live in an apartment or condominium, you may not receive a copy directly, but can access one on your building’s website or by calling your local water department. If you have a private well, you may consider having your water independently tested.

Find the Best Treatment Unit for Specific Contaminants

Once you know what is in your water, you can find an independently tested and certified treatment unit to address these concerns. Importantly, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of individuals surveyed understand that water treatment units such as filters, reverse osmosis (RO) systems and other technologies reduce different contaminants and that some home treatment units work better than others (72 percent).

NSF’s Rick Andrew said this is a move in the right direction. “It is great to see consumers know that not all drinking water filters and treatment units are created equal. These products are designed to remove specific types of contaminants. They can’t reduce all contaminants at once,” Andrew said. “When consumers want their water filtered or treated at home, they can look for the NSF certification mark on a product.”

Independent Verification of Contaminant Reduction

Independent, third-party certification ensures that product claims to reduce specific contaminants have been tested and verified.

While the survey found that built-in refrigerator devices and water treatment pitchers were the most commonly used by respondents (24 percent and 18 percent respectively), a variety of drinking water treatment solutions are available, ranging from whole-house systems that treat all the water in your home to filters and water treatment products for specific areas such as the kitchen faucet.

To help address concerns about the performance and health effects of products sold worldwide and marketed for treating household water supplies, NSF developed several American National Standards covering a wide array of drinking water treatment systems. NSF provides additional information on water treatment units and filters certified to reduce specific contaminants.

NSF’s Consumer Information Hotline

Consumers with questions about water treatment units and independent certification can also contact NSF’s consumer.

For media inquiries, please contact Thomas Frey, APR at or +1 734 214 6242.

About the Survey

NSF and Ketchum Global Research & Analytics conducted a nationally representative online survey among 1,106 adults in the U.S. between April 20 and 23, 2018 using YouGov’s omnibus panel. The margin of error for this study was 1 to 3 percent at the 95-percent confidence level.

About NSF

NSF is an independent, global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment. Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide.

In the water industry, NSF provides risk assessments, testing, inspection and certification services from source to tap. NSF’s Standards Development group led the development of the American National Standards for all materials and products that treat or come in contact with drinking water to help protect public health and the environment and minimize adverse health effects. In 1990, the U.S. EPA replaced its own drinking water product advisory program with these NSF standards.

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