Parents Remain Ahead of the Curve in 2021, According to the 3rd Annual Aquasana Water Quality Survey

See our survey insights about parents' knowledge and concerns regarding water quality.

By: Rachel Carollo

Just in time for back-to-school, we’re sharing new insights from the third annual Aquasana Water Quality Survey that shine a spotlight on how highly tuned-in parents versus non-parents are when it comes to concern and awareness of the quality of tap water in their homes.

This year’s survey results indicate that parents are more perceptive and likely to take action to ensure their families have access to clean, healthy water. We also found the pandemic had a larger impact on water quality concerns for parents than the rest of the population. With COVID-19 still looming large, uncertainty about the safety of schools for unvaccinated children dominating headlines, and the possibility of kids needing to return to homeschooling for some or all of the remainder of 2021, home water quality continues to be a highly relevant topic for parents. Here are some of the topics we’ll dig into below:

  1. How the COVID-19 pandemic affected parents' concerns and behaviors specific to water quality.
  2. How parent’s knowledge of water quality concerns differs from non-parents.
  3. What parents are doing to take control of their water quality.

For context, survey responses were collected from 2,143 U.S. adults (ages 18-79) in March 2021. When we compare results to pre-COVID results collected in February 2020, we’re able to gauge changes in Americans’ knowledge and concerns related to the quality of their drinking water during the pandemic. This is the second article in our series highlighting key trends that emerged from this year’s Aquasana Water Quality Survey. For more information and insights, check out the first post in the series.

Read on to see our survey findings on parents’ knowledge and concerns regarding water quality.

Parents are More Likely to be Knowledgeable and Concerned About the Quality of Their Unfiltered Tap Water 

Overall, parents are generally more informed, more concerned, and more likely to take action regarding water quality issues in their homes than non-parents. In line with our findings from 2019 and 2020, parents are consistently ahead of the curve when it comes to water quality.

Specifically, parents are 64% more likely than non-parents to say they are informed about the quality of unfiltered tap water in their home (23% for parents vs 14% for non-parents). Parents are also 74% more likely than non-parents to say they are concerned about the quality of unfiltered tap water in their homes (47% vs 27%). As such, 7 out of 10 parents agree that it’s necessary to use a water filter, and they’re 25% more likely than non-parents to agree it’s necessary to filter tap water in their home (70% vs 56%).

Parents are also one of the most knowledgeable groups when it comes to familiarity with the toxic contaminants PFOA/PFOS in water. PFOA/PFOS are man-made chemicals that were widely used in household products including non stick cookware, cleaning supplies, leather, and textiles until the early 2000s. In 2016, researchers discovered that exposure to these chemicals can impact the immune system, with prolonged exposure producing even more severe consequences, including potential birth defects, cancer, and heart disease. Scarier still, these “forever chemicals” do not break down, meaning they will stick around in water supplies — and in your body — for years to come.

Awareness of PFOA/PFOS chemicals has been on the rise among both parents and non-parents over the past three years, with 18% of Americans aware of them in 2019 to 33% of Americans aware of them in 2021. However, parents are significantly ahead of other groups when it comes to awareness.

Nearly half (47%) of U.S. parents are familiar with PFOA/PFOS as it relates to water, and parents are 96% more likely than non-parents to be familiar with them. When compared with our survey results from 2020, this represents a 34% year-over-year increase. Awareness of PFOA/PFOS will likely continue to grow as they receive widespread, national media attention. For example, just last June, reports of PFOS-contaminated rain across the midwest made news headlines and stunned the nation. 

The Pandemic Exacerbated Parents’ Tap Water Quality Concerns

According to the third annual Aquasana Water Quality Survey, COVID-19 impacted parents' drinking water concerns more than any other group, including by age, gender, and geography. Ninety percent of parents said they are spending more time at home due to the pandemic, and 52% claimed it’s increased their concern about their tap water quality. In fact, parents are twice as likely to say spending more time at home due to the pandemic has increased their concern about the quality of their tap water (52% vs 26%) when compared to non-parents.

While parents tend to be more knowledgeable about water quality, they’re almost twice as likely (78%) to say they increased the amount of bottled water they purchased during the pandemic. Surprisingly, 35% of those parents said it’s because they believe bottled water is safer than tap water even though bottled water is not regulated by the FDA. In fact, many people don’t realize that bottled water companies are not required to disclose where their water came from, how it was treated, or what contaminants it contains. This lack of regulation means that bottled water may be less safe than municipal tap water, which is regulated and tested regularly to ensure compliance with federal water health and safety requirements. In contrast, water utilities are required to share their test results with local residents at least once per year to ensure transparency.

In fact, one study by the Environmental Working Group analyzed 10 different brands of bottled water and found 38 pollutants present, including industrial chemicals, bacteria, and radioactivity, among other contaminants. 

Bottled water is also worse for the environment, with Americans consuming 73 billion half-liter bottles of water a year. That’s enough to circle the globe with plastic more than 370 times! The EWG also notes that only 30% of plastic bottles are recycled while the remaining bottles end up in landfills, beaches, and oceans. 

Instead of buying wasteful plastic bottles of water, consider investing in a reusable water bottle and filling it up with clean and healthy, filtered water at home. If you’ll be filling up throughout the day, opt for a reusable bottle with a built-in filter. For kids heading back to school this fall, Aquasana’s award-winning Clean Water Bottle removes up to 99% of lead, chlorine, and bacteria for added peace of mind.

Parents Take More Water Quality Action Than Non-Parents 

In correlation with their higher levels of knowledge and concern about water quality, it seems parents are also taking proactive steps to protect their homes and families. According to the survey, parents are not only more likely to filter their drinking water (16%), but they’re also more likely to use higher-end water filtration products than non-parents.

When it comes to the different types of water filters they’re choosing, we found parents are more likely to use higher-end options. They are:

Across the board, parents use water filters on average about 60%-70% more than non-parents. However, that trend varies greatly when it comes to in-line refrigerator filters and whole house filtration systems, in particular. Much less in comparison, parents are only 22% more likely to use a refrigerator with a filter. This may be due to the fact that in-line water filters are generally less effective at reducing harmful contaminants than other point-of-use water filtration systems, especially considering parents’ increased awareness and knowledge on the issue.

On the other end of the spectrum, parents are 164% more likely to use whole house water filters. Unlike point-of-use filters, whole house systems filter water from every tap — including for drinking, brushing teeth, bathing, and laundry — and improve indoor air quality, as well.

In summary, filtering your water is one of the most effective ways to instantly improve the overall health and wellness of a home. Whether you’re a parent or not, Aquasana offers a wide selection of award-winning, high-performance water filtration systems with options that remove up to 99% of 88 contaminants, including fluoride, lead, PFOA/PFOS, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, chlorine and chloramines, and more. From whole house systems to under sink, countertop, and shower filters — we’ve got a solution that will meet your home and family’s unique needs.

Survey Methodology and Definitions

The findings presented in this article are the result of a March 2021 study of 2,143 U.S. adults, ages 18-79, conducted by Aquasana. (Confidence Level: 95%, Margin of Error: 2%)

Survey definitions 

Age Cohorts (based on Pew Research

  • Baby Boomers: 1946-64
  • Gen X: 1965-80 
  • Millennials: 1981-96
  • Gen Z: 1997-2012

Regions (based on U.S. Census map) 

  • Northeast: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut
  • Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
  • South: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Florida
  • West: Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, California, Colorado, Haw

Urban, Suburban, and Rural Classifications

  • The urban, suburban, and rural classifications we use are based on the database and definitions from Great Data, which developed their logic using U.S. Census data.