Tap water taste has prompted many U.S. consumers to drink bottled water and use refrigerator water filters, according to a new survey.
A recent Water Quality Association (WQA) telephone survey looked at public perceptions about drinking water quality and how they affect drinking water choices. In an article in the November issue of Water Technology, Dr. Joe Cotruvo explained the findings, which have been published in the 2015 Study of Consumers’ Opinions and Perceptions Regarding Water Quality.
The survey found that 77 percent of the 1,200 people questioned use bottled water and 45 percent use a refrigerator water filter. Both figures are up from a similar survey in 2011, which found 65 percent use bottled water and 34 percent have a refrigerator water filter.
When asked why they purchase bottled water, around 40 percent said it was because of the taste of tap water and the convenience of bottled water. Around 14 to 16 percent said other tap water quality elements such as its appearance or odor influenced their decision.
Similarly, around 40 percent of those who purchased a water filtration system said it was because of the taste of tap water, and about 50 percent of them were concerned about contaminants.
In addition to these factors, about 23 to 26 percent of bottled water drinkers and 25 percent of who purchased filtering systems said safety and health concerns played into their reasoning.
A much higher percentage of those surveyed overall said they were concerned about contaminants in water. About 80 percent were concerned about chlorine. Cotruvo said that consumers might notice free chlorine since its taste threshold is temperature-dependent. However, around 0.6 milligrams per liter (mg/L) is frequently reported in water, and the taste threshold can be up to 5 mg/L.
Contruvo also pointed to a link between the types of filters that are popular and the reason for installing them. The strengths of carbon tap and refrigeration filters, the most popular home water treatments, are removing chlorine and other chemicals that might affect taste but not public safety.