Home Water Treatment Systems

Source:  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

People have become increasingly concerned about the quality of their water, including the possibility of contamination with hazardous substances. Sources of this contamination are solvents, pesticides, household cleaners, industrial wastes, and underground storage tanks. Chemical compounds, including methylene chloride, trichloroethylene (TCE), lindane, benzene, chlorobenzenes, carbon tetrachloride, and vinyl chloride have also been found in water supplies. Chlorination of drinking water can produce trihalomethans (THMs), which may be a cancer causing substance, according to some research. Radon, a radioactive decay product of natural uranium, is found in groundwater as well as in the air of buildings and have been correlated with an increase in lung cancer.

Private well owners are particularly vulnerable to drinking water contamination. It has been thought that groundwater was not easily contaminated because soil could effectively purify water moving through it. Recent evidence shows that soil is not the buffer for chemicals it was assumed to be.

Approximately 55,000 of the 61,000 public water facilities in the United States meet the standards mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Water quality involves the degree of acceptability for household uses such as drinking, cooking, bathing and laundering. Water conditioning equipment improves quality by reducing turbidity (suspended sediment), reducing hardness, removing disagreeable odors and/or tastes, reducing minerals and possible contaminants.

Four common types of water treatment systems to improve water for household uses are: filters, reverse osmosis units, distillers, and softeners. Filters and reverse osmosis systems are discussed in this resource.

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