ZERO WASTE is the recycling of all materials back into nature or the marketplace in a manner that protects human health and the environment.



We have a whole house filter that takes out the chlorine and other contaminants, but it can't take out fluoride. We filter our kitchen water faucet through an osmosis contraption for fluoride removal. I don't take supplements, so it is important to eat well in order to replace the minerals lost through osmosis. Also, keep in mind that food and beverage processors may not filter fluoride from their water, which means that high levels of fluoride can concentrate in their products. L. Landes, ZWA http://www.zerowasteamerica.org/Fluoride.htm 

Water quality in the United States is not good. Industries reported discharging nearly one billion pounds of toxic chemicals into America's  waterways between 1992 and 1996, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.   The report, Troubled Waters, found that  industries discharged an additional 141 million pounds into sewer systems, eventually being released to waterways, over the same five year  period. However, according to The Environmental Defense Fund, the situation is more dire. They report that 2 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by manufacturers each year, with 40% of the rivers in America are unfit for swimming or fishing. Also see: EPA's Toxic Release Inventory & EPA's 1996 State of the Nation's Water Quality.

To make matters worse, the federal government allows the addition of chemicals, such as chlorine and fluoride, into municipal water systems. These chemicals can pose major public health risks. Source: ZWA's Fluoride page & ZWA's Chlorine page. "Ultraviolet light (UV), ozone treatment, and improved filtration can eliminate the use of chlorine and hazardous by-products in water treatment systems. Hundreds of municipalities around the world are already using these alternative disinfection technologies, and several large cities in Europe are relying on those methods to deliver safe, chlorine-free drinking water to their communities. These include Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Nice and Paris, in France and Berlin, Munich and Muenster in Germany. Chlorine-free alternatives that use oxygen, ozone, UV, ionic treatment and other methods are available to disinfect swimming pools, as well," says Greenpeace.

On or before October 19, 1999 - and by July 1 in future years - residential water consumers who do not have their own private well are to receive annual reports on their drinking water. Officially called "Consumer Confidence Reports" (CCRs) these drinking water Right-to-Know (RTK) documents are to communicate basics about communities' drinking water: where it comes from, what's in it, potential health effects and likely origins of contaminants detected through testing. Source: EPA. Although the EPA tests for 83 contaminants, it is not a comprehensive testing of all threats to water quality. See "Test Your Water" below.

Some water delivery systems continue to use PVC (polyvinyl chloride plastic pipe) despite concerns about harmful health effects. "Of all the plastics, PVC plastic or vinyl can be considered the most problematic. Because PVC on its own is almost useless as a plastic, numerous additives are used to make a wide variety of products. Some of these additives are plasticizers to make it soft and pliable, heavy metals as stabilizers or to give it color, and fungicides to stop fungi from eating the other additives. So the production of PVC also creates a huge secondary toxic manufacturing industry," says Greenpeace. Stainless steel is, perhaps, the most desirable drinking water pipe material. Steel is used in parts of Europe and Japan.

Bottled water presents its own set of hazards. In 1998, The EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee (EDSTAC) announced that they are "moving toward" launching a screening program that will evaluate health and environmental effects of endocrine-disrupting synthetic chemicals used in thousands of common products, including plastics. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been found to leach from plastic, causing a rampant proliferation of breast cancer cells. See: ZWA's Plastics and Breast Cancer.

In addition, protections for bottled water are not the same as those for tap water: 1) The new drinking water Right to Know regulations will not apply to bottled water. 2) The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) bottled water standards are weaker than those for public water systems. 3) 60-70% of the bottled water sold (including much carbonated and all seltzer water) is totally exempt from the FDA's weaker standards. Source: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). CleanWater Action supports U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D-NJ) proposed "Bottled Water Safety and Right To Know Act," (S 790) which calls for bottled water standards that are as protective as the current tap water standards. The bill would also entitle bottled water consumers to receive the same kinds of Right to Know information on bottled water sources and contaminant test results that are to be provided to tap water consumers. See below for more information.

History has proven that the public cannot not solely rely on federal, state, county, and local authorities to protect water quality. ZWA strongly recommends that consumers periodically test their drinking water, plus any water bodies on your property. Contact your state government for a list of state certified labs - http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/faq/sco.html.

If a public agency is involved in testing a contaminated site or a suspicious site in your community, ask for a "split sample" to be taken. This requires public officials to use an additional laboratory. Split samples enhance the integrity of the investigation. Public officials should not allow property owners who want to sell or develop their property to control the testing process, although owners may be held liable for the costs of testing.



  • CONTACT your state government for a LIST OF STATE CERTIFIED LABS.

  • COMPARE your test results to EPA's Current Drinking Water Standards:

    • National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs or primary standards) are legally enforceable standards that apply to public water systems. Primary standards protect drinking water quality by limiting the levels of specific contaminants that can adversely affect public health and are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. Table 1 divides these contaminants into Inorganic Chemicals, Organic Chemicals, Radionuclides, and Microorganisms.
      • ZWA notes: PERCHLORATE may soon be added to the list.
    • National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (NSDWRs or secondary standards) are non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water. EPA recommends secondary standards to water systems but does not require systems to comply.
      • NSDWRs NOT TESTED FOR BY THE EPA: Fluoride, Aluminum, Chloride, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Sulfate, Silver, Corrosivity, Foaming Agents, pH, Total Dissolved Solids, Color, Odor.
      • ZWA notes: EPA claims for NSDWRs are IN CONFLICT with toxicological reports for these contaminants. SEE: The Environmental Defense Fund "Scorecard" for more information

NOTE: To obtain a chart for the monitoring/testing frequency schedule, call - Safe Drinking Water Hotline 1-800-426-4791 or email: hotline-sdwa@epamail.epa.gov. As a last resort, call EPA at (202) 260-4275.

Note: To test for chlorine, use an ordinary pool test kit.

Water Issues,Technologies, and Remediation

 Also see: ZWA's REMEDIATION  ZWA's Fluoride  / ZWA's Chlorine

 News Link: Water Online


NOTE: A whole house purifier will reduce contaminants, such as chlorine, so that you don't inhale them or absorb them through your skin - as well as not drink them. Some of water treatment companies are listed below. To locate companies that sell water treatment products and services, Search the Internet for "chlorine removal," "water treatment," etc.

For water filters, or water purification dealers, products, and information, check: 


If you buy bottled water, be sure that it is...

  1. Not fluoridated, See: ZWA's Fluoride page
  2. Contained in glass, not plastic, See: Are Plastic Products Causing Breast Cancer Epidemic?
  3. Comes from ground, not surface, water (Surface water is generally treated with much larger amounts of chlorine than ground water)
  4. Stands open for an hour to remove chlorine. This will not remove the byproducts of chlorination, which have been linked to harmful health effects. See: Chlorine In Drinking Water

DISTILLED WATER - Many people recommend distilled water. However, distilled water may draw harmful chemicals out of its container, so be sure the container is glass or stainless steel - not plastic. Although some health professionals believe that distilled water does not have the minerals necessary for good health and recommend taking mineral supplements, others point out that mineral supplements should be taken regardless of the purification process.



Fluoride Extraction Info & Products:



  Composting Toilets and Greywater Systems: 

  • Ecological Engineering
  • New Book on Composting Toilets and Greywater Systems
  • The Humanure Hand Book: A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Entertaining and Informative. The most important fact conveyed by this book is that to defecate in water is an unhealthy practice which retards proper decomposition. Most people haven't thought about it in that way, but once they do, it makes sense.
  • Greenbuilder Sourcebook - CompostToilet
  • Jade Mountain Products 
  • Sun-Mar Composting Toilets
  • Solar Composting Advanced Toilet 
  • Biolet
  • Clivus Multrum
  • Microbialogic
  • Advanced Composting Systems
  • Composting Toilets - Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


    Environmental Web Directory - Waste Water 


    EPA'S Office of Water


    The Groundwater Remediation Technologies Analysis Center (GWRTAC) compiles, analyzes, and disseminates information on innovative groundwater remediation technologies.


    • Municipal & Private Water Companies - American Water Works AssociationThe American Water Works Association (AWWA) is an international nonprofit scientific and educational society dedicated to the improvement of drinking water quality and supply. Founded in 1881, AWWA is the largest organization of water supply professionals in the world.
    • Water Filtration Equipment - The Water Quality AssociationThe Water Quality Association (WQA) is the international trade association representing the household, commercial, and industrial water quality improvement industry. Its 2,200 corporate member companies manufacture and sell point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) equipment, package water treatment plants, and customized water treatment systems.
    • Sets Standards for Water Filtration Equaipment - National Sanitation FoundationNSF International, founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation, is known for the development of standards, product testing and certification services in the areas of public health safety and protection of the environment.
    • The International Ozone Association (IOA)
    • Water Environmental Federation

    Have tough technical questions about water? Try posing them to newsgroups and forums:

    >It was recently asserted in this forum that "Giardia lamblia as well as
    >Cryptosporidium cannot be eliminated by UV radiation." In fact, several
    >recent studies have clearly demonstrated UV's effectiveness against
    >Cryptosporidium using animal infectivity assays. Companies successfully
    >testing their equipment against Cryptosporidium include WaterHealth
    >International, Inc., Safe Water Solutions, Innovatech, Calgon Carbon,
    >Aquionics and PurePulse. (See Hargy, Thomas M., "UV Equipment Proven
    >Against Cryptosporidium," Water Conditioning & Purification, March 2000,
    >and www.waternet.com, "Ultraviolet light found to be effective against
    >Cryptosporidium," September 1999.)
    >In addition, recent testing by the Orange County (Cal.) Water District,
    >CH2M Hill and BioVir Laboratories using animal infectivity studies suggests
    >that low pressure UV may be highly effective at deactivating Giardia. The
    >tests achieved a 4-log inactivation of Giardia muris with a dose of 10
    >(ten) mWs/cm2 or less with a low-pressure low-intensity collimated beam
    >unit and a low-pressure high-intensity collimated beam unit. Giardia muris
    >was used as a surrogate for Giardia lamblia and is accepted as a test
    >microorganism by NSF/EPA. (See Soroushian, Fred, et al., "Impact of
    >Ultraviolet Technology and Water Quality Parameters on Inactivation of
    >Microorganisms." American Waterworks Association, May 2000.)
    >Another good resource on UV disinfection is www.iuva.org.

    >Jessica Tuteur, Operations Manager
    >WaterHealth International, Inc.
    >1700 Soscol Avenue, Suite 5
    >Napa, CA 94559 USA
    >tel: 707 252 9092
    >fax: 707 252 1514
    >Web address: http://www.waterhealth.com
    >Email: info@waterhealth.com

    Zero Waste America does not endorse products or services, nor receive compensation of any kind.