There are many possible toxic biological organisms as well as chemical substances of
concern. The USEPA, along with the CDC, state administrators, and American Water Works Association are
already working with water utilities to increase their vigilance source water investigations, security
measures, and analyses to make sure that they can detect such agents. The first defense against this
potential health treat is in the hands of the water utility management and their central treatment
processes and analytical procedure.
Distillation, RO, UV, and fine filtration units may provide additional protection barriers against many of
these agents. For example, anthrax spores are two to six microns in size, similar to protozoan cysts.
Products tested and certified for their effectiveness in cyst reduction likely would effectively reduce
anthrax. Many biological organisms are inactivated by heat in a POU distillation unit. Similarly, ultraviolet
light disrupts the reproduction mechanism in microorganisms, rendering them inactive. Regarding chemical agents,
RO units and carbon filters may reject or absorb these toxic compounds, although they may not have been specifically
tested for a particular chemical.
The bacterial, viral, and different chemical sabotage and terrorist threats have not been encountered in waters
and, thus, have not, of course, been incorporated in drinking water treatment unit product designs or performance
standards. Specifically, our drinking water treatment unit products have not been tested and certified for their
effectiveness in reducing these exotic chemical or biological sabotage agents.
Some Government experts believe that many point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) technologies such as
distillation, reverse osmosis, absolute filtration, activated carbon, and ultraviolet light mdash; especially
when assembled in appropriate combinations in a water treatment system mdash; may provide an added level of
protection against biological and chemical terrorist/warfare agents in drinking water.
Once a terrorist contamination is identified, an alternate and secure source of drinking water should be used
immediately. The most likely role of the POU/POE systems would be that of increased pre-event protection mdash;
prior to the awareness of contamination.
The full scope and performance integrity of POU/POE drinking water treatment products must be sustained with
factual test data following scientifically valid test procedures. The CDC is currently conducting research to
identify safe-to-handle surrogates for specific biological and chemical warfare agents. (This could take years.)
These surrogates, when released by the CDC, will then enable research and development of reliable performance standards.