Point-of-Use Water Purification Systems


Point-of-use drinking water systems are increasingly common in US households. These provide peace-of-mind for many consumers concerned about the safety (or taste) of their drinking water, but these come a price usually borne by the homeowner.

Individualized solutions to drinking water quality is an outgrowth of the acceptance by Congress of a large number of small drinking water utilities. Rather than demand that the utility provide drinking water that is free of regulated (and other) contaminants, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to allow smaller utilities to filter water by installing point-of-use and point-of-entry treatment devices under individual sinks and/or at the entry of water to the home.

Now, even in areas serviced by larger drinking water utilities, consumers are opting to take the health of their families into their own hands by using a wide range of devices, each with a particular benefit – but also at a different price point. Some people choose to purify all of the water in their home, regardless of whether it is used for drinking and food preparation, washing, running dishwashers and washing machines, or even for flushing of toilets. This obviously requires more comprehensive (and more expensive) devices. Others prefer devices that only purify the water that will be used for drinking and cooking, and, to achieve that, install them for use with the kitchen sink, or a limited number of taps.

Aside from under-the-sink and on-the-tap devices, there are also many other kinds of drinking water filters available. While cost, ease of use, and available space are all relevant to the choice made, most important is for the consumer to know what contaminant(s) is/are in the water. Once that is known, choice of filter gets easier.

Contaminants in drinking water can be detected by testing. A simple internet search will provide a variety of home-based and lab-based tests. Testing companies usually suggest the kind of treatment technology that is best for each contaminant found.

Alternatively, consumers can rely on publicly available information to tell the kinds of regulated contaminants found by each drinking water utility. The Consumer Confidence Report prepared by each local drinking water utility is often

confusing, but may be of some value. One of the most important drinking water not-for-profit organizations, Environmental Working Group (EWG), provides a far easier listing of local regulated contaminants broken out by ZIP Code.

But whether using the utility’s report or EWG’s Tap Water Database, it is important to ensure that the treatment technology chosen actually removes the contaminants present. While the removal of some contaminants require major investments, such as pipe replacement or full-home advanced filtration systems, others can be removed from drinking water with a simple filtered pitcher.

The EWG Tap Water Database and related information on treatment technology can be found here.

Seth Siegel