Following the Keuringsdienst van Waarde broadcast about water filters, we have had several inquiries.
We have been importing and selling water filters for over 20 years, so we fully understand that you may take our response as a sales pitch. The information we have found is from public sources. We have therefore tried to include links to the relevant sources as much as possible.
Filtration of tap water is unnecessary
In the broadcast of the Keuringsdienst van Waarde, a water researcher spoke from the KWR, which according to the program is an independent expert organization that researches water. On their site, however, you can read that it is an independent organization, with Dutch and Belgian drinking water companies as shareholders. The organization has a laboratory, which tests the water of its own shareholders. That does not sound entirely independent in our eyes.
According to a KWR researcher, all in all, 1 microgram per liter of substances introduced by humans is allowed in drinking water. As an example, the researcher stated that if you drink 2 liters of water daily, it takes 685 years to ingest the amount of 1 paracetamol. That sounds reassuring, but it is inaccurate and gives a false picture of water quality.
In Europe, our drinking water companies are bound by the EC Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC and the EC Drinking Water Directive 2020/2184. These regulations list some 80 substances for which we have set standards on how much of each substance can be present in drinking water at most.
The regulations for the Netherlands are described, among other things, in the Drinking Water Decree. In the appendices we find the various substances and the maximum value. What strikes us immediately is that drinking water of several substances may contain a higher value than the 1 microgram indicated by the researcher.
For example, the following are allowed in the Netherlands in micrograms per liter; Lead 10 (in 2022 maximum 5), Cyanides 50, Nitrate 50, Trihalomethanes (such as chloroform, bromoform) 25, Aluminum 200, BPA 2.5 and so on many other substances.
Now we are not saying that all these substances occur in such quantities in drinking water, but these are the amounts that are allowed. So we are getting much more than 1 microgram per liter.
In addition, drinking water can still contain thousands of toxic residues, which a drinking water company does not monitor at all. The Netherlands is the drain of Europe. Everything that is discharged into the big rivers in Germany and France eventually reaches us.
A good example is GenX * which was found in drinking water in a region of South Holland a few years ago. Chemours in Dordrecht had a permit to discharge thousands of kilograms of this substance into surface water. Due to an error at Chemours, where an excessive amount of GenX was discharged at once, the substance was only noticed by the drinking water company. At that time, it turned out that it had been present in drinking water in that area for years.
"Dutch drinking water is the best in the world"
"The Dutch drinking water" does not exist. Our drinking water is treated differently in every place in the Netherlands. Perhaps you have experienced yourself that the tap water tastes different in one place in the Netherlands than in another.
For example, there are drinking water companies that add certain substances to the water. Companies such as PWN and Evides, for example, appear to add a small amount of chlorine dioxide to drinking water as a precaution, according to Ans Versteegh of the RIVM.
In 2015, water company Vitens commissioned a survey in their supply area in which 7,000 people participated. This showed large differences by region, even though the water all came from Vitens.
Furthermore, in 2018, the Environmental and Transport Inspectorate published the report "Quality of drinking water from Dutch drinking water companies 2017." This showed that the water overall good.
However, there were 401 exceedances of the standard. There were also 22 exemptions issued by the inspection. An exemption is applied for by the drinking water company if it is found at intake that the value of certain chemicals is higher than permitted. It is important here that such a value is too high for longer than 30 days, or if it can be expected that the excess will last longer than 30 days.
Despite the fact that the report showed that the water is generally good, the exemptions granted did show, according to the Environmental and Transport Inspectorate, that the quality of surface water and (shoreline) groundwater remains a concern.
Water filters are bacteria nests
In the broadcast of the Keuringsdienst van Waarde, the "independent" KWR laboratory made a comparison between the amount of bacteria from a Brita water filter and tap water. For this, the Keuringsdienst van Waarde had taken a Brita filter, which was only 3 weeks old and thus "could still last a while" according to the reporter.
The Petri dish showed that the water from the Brita filter contained more bacteria than the tap water. The conclusion of this test was that this demonstrated that water filters are bacteria nests. However, you can't just lump all water filters together.
Therefore, a thorough researcher should have said that the Brita filter contains more bacteria than tap water, but it is not known what the result of other filters is. To conduct a proper and objective study, multiple filter systems will have to be compared.
For example, a Brita filter is about the cheapest filter available in the Netherlands. It consists only of carbon, which cannot stop bacteria. If the filter is not used correctly then it can indeed become a bacteria nest. We do not know if this filter was used correctly by the Inspection Service.
In contrast, our Aqualine/AQV water filters have a pre-filter of 0.2 microns (0.0002 mm), which stops bacteria. In addition, the multi-step filter contains, among other things, carbon, which is enriched with silver to stop bacteria from multiplying. Some of the mineral stones also contain silver. Our Aqualine/AQV filter systems do have antibacterial protection.
If the Keuringsdienst van Waarde had done critical research, they could have found the information online about the fact that there may/can be many more pollutants in tap water than 1 micron. In the broadcast, of course, it sounds nice that for 685 years you would have to drink an average of about 2 liters of water daily to ingest the amount of 1 paracetamol. But this comment is incorrect.
In addition, having water tested by a laboratory of which the drinking water companies are shareholders is not, in our view, truly independent.
Also speaking is Jan Peter van der Hoek, director of innovation at water company Waternet. To ask him whether the drinking water is top quality is to kick down an open door. Van der Hoek also shows how water is purified. Here he shows how the water goes through activated carbon. Here, substances such as medicines, pesticides, personal care substances, industrial discharges, artificial sweeteners are filtered out of the water. This is done at a speed of 10 - 15 meters per hour. Carbon is a hollow fiber. The longer the contaminated water is in contact with the carbon, the more contaminants it can extract. Our Aqualine/AQV water filters filter at a rate of about 1.5 liters per hour. This allows more contaminants to be removed.
All in all, the Keuringsdienst van Waarde presented too one-sided a picture with the broadcast, in our opinion. This could have been avoided if a thorough investigation had been conducted comparing multiple water filters.
* GenX is not a substance but a technology used to make the non-stick coating for some of our pans, coatings for water repellent materials such as raincoats etc.
Since 2012, the American chemical company Chemours in Dordrecht has been using GenX technology to replace PFOA compounds.
The substances used in GenX technology are on the European Community's list of "potentially substances of very high concern.