When you go to the grocery store you have an array of food choices, all inspected and certified as safe by the government. Side by side in the same display case are chickens that have been raised extensively on feed saturated with antibiotics and steroids to enhance their growth, and free range chickens that have been raised free of chemical adulterants. Both have been deemed legally safe to consume, but only one is totally safe. Which would you prefer to feed your family?
Everyone that drives a car understands how costly they can be to operate and maintain. So when an opportunity arises to save money on car repairs and maintenance the temptation is often to purchase the least expensive replacement parts. For example, when your car needs new tires you have the choice of inexpensive, used retread tires or new steel-belted radial tires. Both types of tires will pass a vehicle safety inspection and are legal to drive on, but only one should be considered totally safe. Which tire would you prefer to carry your precious loved ones down the highway?
The above comparisons are made to illustrate a simple point. What some government agency has deemed legally safe is not always totally safe. This same comparison applies to one of our most important resources, something that has a significant impact upon our health and well-being: the water we drink everyday of our lives. Are the "legally safe" levels of contaminants in tap water and untreated well water truly safe when compared to purified drinking water?
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the principal federal law in the United States intended to ensure safe drinking water for the public. Pursuant to that act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to set standards for drinking water quality and currently regulates over 90 contaminants found in our public water systems. If tap water is found to contain less than the enforceable mandatory levels (Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs) for each of the regulated contaminants, then the water is deemed "legally safe" to drink. In addition to this list of over 90 already regulated contaminants, the US EPA is currently investigating 100,00 known, but as of yet unregulated contaminants, in our public water system and considering legislation to regulate 104 more known contaminants. Obviously you cannot consider your drinking water totally safe given the fact that the EPA is investigating thousands of other known contaminants and actively considering legislation to regulate 104 more. In addition, the EPA's definition of "legally safe" drinking is a moving target. The water we were told was safe to drink 20 or 30 years ago would not be considered safe by today's standards, and it follows that water is deemed "legally safe" today will not be considered so by future standards.
Research is documenting with increasing frequency that many chemical and microbial constituents are not historically considered as contaminants present in public drinking water on a global scale. Recently this phenomenon has been given the title of "emerging contaminants" and they are being found in our public drinking water at increasingly alarming rates. These emerging contaminants consist of an array of harmful substances ranging from illicit drugs (cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamines), prescriptions drugs (both human and veterinary), and pharmaceuticals used in manufacturing to persistent organic pollutants that are resistant to normal environmental degradation. And if historical data is to be trusted, the concentrations of emerging contaminants in our public drinking water are likely to increase before decreasing. Although no direct adverse impact on human health has been scientifically established from consuming drinking water treated to current EPA standards, the presence of emerging contaminants in the source waters used for our drinking water supply is cause for concern. None of these "emerging contaminants" are regulated by the EPA and there is even evidence indicating that chlorine, which is often added as a disinfectant before water enters the distribution system, can react with some of these chemicals leading to the formation of new, secondary chemicals, which are known to be harmful to humans. Although the impact of these emerging contaminants on the public's health is not entirely clear, one thing is clear beyond a shadow of doubt. Given the choice between consuming water contaminated with "legal" levels of substances known to be harmful to humans or water purified to be free of these poisons any reasonable person would choose clean, healthy, purified water.
There also has been a marked increase in the detection of harmful pathogens (disease producing micro-organisms which include bacteria such as giardia lamblia, viruses, and parasites) in our public water supplies. Of particular concern is the detection of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in our public drinking water. E. coli O157:H7 is an extremely dangerous strain of the bacterium E. coli, producing a powerful toxin that can lead to permanent kidney damage or even death. In response to water treatment issues and the inability to find a viable water supply for some communities, governments have often subsidized bottled water. Although bottled water is an excellent source of clean water to temporarily avoid an unreasonable risk to health, long term consumption of bottled water bears its own risks. Quite often, bottled water lacks key minerals and nutrients necessary for good health. In addition, these government subsidized bottled water programs do not typically specify which bottled waters to use or avoid.
The public has a choice, and an inalienable right, to seek alternatives to tap and untreated well water for their supply of safe drinking water. Much like the right to bear arms or install security systems in one's home or workplace to protect life, liberty and property, people have the right to protect their health and well-being by choosing alternative methods to supply themselves and their families with clean, safe, purified drinking water.
The residential market for POE/POU water purification system is a consumer driven industry. Supply has steadily increased to meet the increased demand for POE/POU purification devices and this demand accounts for millions of dollars spent every year on residential POE/POU systems. And like most consumer driven industries, the water treatment industry has its share of fraudulent operators deceiving consumers and preying upon their legitimate fears about the purity and safety of their drinking water. Totally safe water also includes our responsibility to protect the public from incompetent salesmen and fraudulent promoters interested only in selling you a purification system regardless of whether you need it or not.