ILLINOIS STATE WATER SURVEY LIBRARY COPY
MAR 3 0 1988
STATE OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Consumer Attitudes Toward Public Water Supply Quality: Dissatisfaction and Alternative Water Sources by LYNN L. CURRY Southern Illinois University
ILLINOIS STATE WATER SURVEY CHAMPAIGN 1983
Public awareness of the quality of the environment and of the safety of public water supplies are related issues which have rarely received the attention that they deserve. The media infrequently treat the extent of scientific or public understanding of these issues directly, except as they relate to crisis situations. Selective coverage has resulted in an unbalanced public view of real versus perceived concerns as to the safety and quality of public water supplies. This report seeks to document the basis for public dissatisfaction with public water supplies and specific reasons for the purchase of alternative drinking water sources. The study clearly demonstrates the need for improved consumer awareness of the objectives, competency, and limits of operations of water purveyors. The fact that we generally enjoy inexpensive, high quality water supplies for a variety of uses must be effectively brought to public attention. In this way, real concerns and future problems can be faced on a more reasoned basis by all concerned.
Michael J. Barcelona Head, Aquatic Chemistry Section State Water Survey Division Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources October 1983
CONTENTS Page Abstract Introduction .... Rationale for consumer dissatisfaction with drinking water quality and for the purchase of alternatives Health concerns Aesthetic preferences Consumer distrust Fashionability Expansion of the bottled water and home filter industries . . . Plan of the report Acknowledgements Background Consumer perception of drinking water quality Current topics relative to drinking water quality Chlorination and human cancer risks Water hardness and cardiovascular disease Sodium in drinking water The fluoridation controversy Waterborne disease Need for further research Types of bottled water and home treatment units Design of the study Results and discussion Consumer dissatisfaction Health concerns Sodium and other minerals Chemicals in drinking water Radiation in drinking water Aesthetic reasons Taste Odor Hardness Turbidity Color Social reasons Consumer distrust of persons responsible for drinking water quality Fashionability Income, occupation, and education Control group rationale for not purchasing bottled water and/or a home unit Conclusions Bibliography Appendix 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 7 7 7 7 8 8 10 10 11 11 11 12 12 12 13 13 14 14 14 14 17 17 18 18 19 23
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARD PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY QUALITY: DISSATISFACTION AND ALTERNATIVE WATER SOURCES by Lynn L. Curry
ABSTRACT A survey of consumers' attitudes was conducted to determine their perception of drinking water quality. Bottled water buyers and home water treatment unit users were polled to discern what led these consumers to reject or alter the available public drinking water. The study revealed that people who buy bottled water and home units are dissatisfied with the quality of the available drinking water supply and generally rate their water as poor. The most frequent explanations for dissatisfaction with the quality of drinking water may be placed in three categories: aesthetic reasons, health reasons, and social reasons. Aesthetic concerns were primarily with taste and water hardness, then with floating particles (turbidity) and odor and color. The home unit buyers were shown to be largely concerned with aesthetic qualities such as taste and hardness, while the bottled water buyers more often expressed a concern with the potential health effects of the drinking water. Primary health concerns were found to be with the sodium content of the drinking water and the presence of chemicals....
discovery was especially remarkable since the germ theory was proposed until the 1860s (Safe Drinking Water Committee, 1977).
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