US consumer use of household water treatment at an all-time high

Consumer use of home water treatment systems is at an all-time high in the US and has caught up with the use of bottled water. Nearly two-thirds of consumers are using home water treatment, bottled water or both, according to the 1999 National Consumer Water Quality Survey.

The survey supports the findings of earlier polls that showed that nearly three-quarters of American adults have concerns about their household water supply and one in three does not believe his or her water supply is as safe as it should be.

Commissioned by the Water Quality Association (WQA), the national survey of adult consumers analysed respondents’ perceptions about their household water supply and purchase activity in the home water treatment industry.

“This year’s research findings confirm that while concerns about the quality of their drinking water remained stable, consumers are increasingly turning their significant concerns into action through the purchase of home water treatment units,” said Peter Censky, WQA executive director.

The number of adults who report using a household water treatment device jumped to 38 percent from 32 percent in the 1997 WQA survey, and represents an 11-point, or 28 percent, increase since the WQA study of 1995.

In the same four-year period, the percentage of consumers who report using either a home water treatment device or bottled water rose to 62 percent from 53 percent.

Even as bottled water use remained flat, the increase in home water treatment was led by the tabletop pitcher category, “entry-level” devices such as pour-through water pitchers. The tabletop devices were overwhelmingly favoured by young consumers, ages 18- to 34-years-old, and as in past years consumers over 35 are more likely to have water treatment devices attached to the plumbing of their residence.

These usage patterns show continued growth in all categories as new entrants to the market buy-up. Also, one out of 10 adults who do not use a water filtration unit now intends to purchase one within a year, and 47 percent of the survey respondents say they would be more likely to buy a house with a water treatment device if they were in the market for a new home.

Sixty percent of Americans believe the quality of their drinking water affects their health, almost half are concerned about possible health related contaminants in their water supply and one in five is dissatisfied with the quality of his or her household water supply.

“As Americans’ lifestyles have changed, so have their habits as they refuse to take water quality for granted in an era of heightened awareness about the importance of diet, exercise and environment when it comes to their health and sense of well being,” Censky said. “Twenty years ago, a similar WQA survey found that four out of 10 adults thought water quality was linked to health.”

The 1999 WQA survey findings are being released as municipal water districts throughout the country prepare to issue Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) by next October, a new requirement under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 in an initiative to make consumers aware of their drinking water quality and related public policy.

The 1999 National Consumer Water Quality Survey of 1,003 adults was conducted nationally between January 14-17, 1999, by Opinion Research Corporation International, an independent research firm based in Princeton, N.J.

The Water Quality Association is an international trade association representing retailers, dealers, manufacturers and suppliers in the household, commercial, industrial and small system water treatment industry.

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