Aquasana’s 5th Annual Water Quality Survey Shows 7 out of 10 Americans Are Concerned about the Quality of Unfiltered Tap Water In Their Home

Our 2023 Water Quality Survey shows concern about the quality of unfiltered tap water in American homes has doubled – up by 106% since 2021. Read on to learn more about this and other water quality trends.

By: Rachel Carollo

Coinciding with National Water Quality Month in August, each year we survey Americans about their drinking water knowledge, habits, and concerns in order to spread awareness about water quality issues and help people find water filtration solutions they can trust. 

2023 marks the 5th anniversary of our Water Quality Survey, and in this post, we’ll be sharing key findings from this year’s data, and previous years, in order to uncover trends and changes. Most notably, we found that 7 out of 10 (70%) Americans are concerned about the quality of unfiltered tap water in their home, which is up significantly from 34% in 2021.

Using data from 2,414 U.S. adults (ages 18+) surveyed in April 2023, we’ll provide additional insight and analysis to explain the factors behind this skyrocketing growth. Read on to find out more information and facts related to water quality.

Why are people more concerned about their unfiltered drinking water?

Our 2023 Water Quality Survey revealed that 70% of Americans are concerned about unfiltered tap water in their homes, which is a significant increase since 2021 when we first started asking this specific question. We correlate this with Americans becoming more knowledgeable about their water quality – a trend we’ve also observed since 2021.

Each year, our survey asks Americans if they agree or disagree with the following statement:

“I know a lot about the quality of unfiltered tap water in my home.”

The results over the past three years indicate that knowledge has steadily grown over time, from just 17% in 2021, to 27% in 2022, and now 43% in 2023. This marks a 153% increase over the past three years, with now nearly half of Americans saying they know a lot about the quality of unfiltered tap water in their home.

Increased knowledge and concern about water quality may be tied to increased water filter usage

Not only are we seeing that an increase in knowledge about water correlates to a growth in concern about water quality, but we also see that it may be influencing more people to filter their drinking water. Supporting this notion is survey data that shows a long-term increase in the percentage of Americans who say they filter their drinking water. In 2023, the percentage of Americans who filter their drinking water is at an all-time high, with 91% of people indicating they use a filter. This figure has also increased in each of the past four years and is up 25% since 2020.

For additional context, here’s the year-by-year breakdown of the percentage of Americans who say they filter their drinking water:

Not only are more people filtering their water than ever before, but we’re also seeing a shift in Americans favoring more advanced types of water filtration systems over the years. When looking at the types of water filters that people are using, we’ve seen long-term increases for every type of water filter except for pitcher and refrigerator filters.

People are moving from entry-level filters to more advanced and effective options like whole house, countertop, and under sink systems. The increasing usage of whole house systems is especially eye-catching, as it’s up 211% since 2021. These systems provide filtered water throughout an entire home, which may suggest Americans find it increasingly important that all the water they use and consume is filtered.

Filter usage by generation

When looking at which age groups are using water filters and how that’s changed in recent years, we found that all demographics have increased usage. However, younger generations filter their water at a higher rate, with Gen Z in the lead at a 98% usage rate. This means that almost all adult Gen Zers use a water filter of some variety, and we’re likely to see water filtration usage increase in the years to come as more Gen Zers become adults (18+).

On the other hand, Baby Boomers represent the group that’s least likely to use a water filter. However, despite being the group that’s least likely to use a filter — more than three-quarters of them still do, which indicates how important drinking filtered water is to Americans.

What are the most common motivations for people who filter their water in 2023?

So we know Americans are filtering their water at a record rate and using more comprehensive methods of filtration. Additionally, we believe this is correlated with an increase in knowledge and concern about the quality of unfiltered tap water in their homes.

However, to fully understand Americans’ motivations for filtering their drinking water, we asked survey respondents why they chose to do so.

“Because it is environmentally friendly”

In our survey, 52% of respondents noted they use a water filter because it’s environmentally friendly — making this the most common reason among Americans in 2023, and up from 41% in 2022. On a similar note, we also found that of the people who don’t use a water filter, 35% would be motivated to start using one if they thought it would be better for the environment (up from 23% in 2022). 

This suggests that the environment is currently a major influence on consumer behavior, and plays a strong role in purchasing decisions. Our survey data backs this up, as we found that 62% of people say they “always or often” seek products to purchase because they are sustainable for the environment, which is up from just 27% in 2021.

It’s possible that the increasing usage of water filters may be tied to increasing awareness of their environmental benefits. It’s widely known that disposable plastic bottles are bad for the environment, but Americans may be growing more knowledgeable about other ways that filters are good for the environment

For example, water filters are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use bottled water, as systems like Aquasana’s 3-Stage Max Flow can displace the equivalent of 12,000 plastic bottles per year. Additionally, whole house water filters help appliances maintain their efficiency by reducing particle buildup within the components, which benefits the environment by requiring less energy to operate. Reducing buildup also means less wear and tear, so appliances last longer and don’t have to be discarded as often (meaning fewer broken appliances in landfills).

“I believe it’s healthier”

After the environment, health was the next most popular motivation for Americans to use a water filter in 2023, with 31% of respondents saying they filter their water because they believe it’s healthier. Much like with the environment, we found that a large portion (42%) of people who do not currently filter their water would be motivated to do so if they thought a filter would make their water healthier.

It’s no surprise that health is a top motivation behind the use of water filters, as 80% of all Americans believe it’s important to have access to clean, trustworthy water in their home.

Interestingly, we found that health is a stronger motivator for older generations than for younger generations. Our survey data shows that Baby Boomers and Gen X are 38% more likely than Millennials and Gen Z to say they filter their water because it’s healthier. Baby Boomers are also 70% more likely than any other age group to say they filter their water because it’s healthier, which may be tied to research that “proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.” Of course, proper hydration is about more than just drinking enough water – you also need to drink clean, healthy water you can trust.

“I don’t trust the quality of my water” and “I have always filtered my drinking water”

Rounding out the top three motivations, we actually have a tie with 30% of Americans each noting that the reason they filter is because “I don’t trust the quality of my water” and “I have always filtered my drinking water.”

For the Americans who’ve always filtered their water, this number is somewhat unsurprising as we’re now seeing people who have grown up with water filtration as the norm throughout their entire lives. Based on the growth in the usage of water filters, especially among younger generations, it’s possible we may see this figure increase in the future.

The lack of trust in water quality is the more prominent finding from our survey. Beyond the environment or health in general, 30% of Americans are using a water filter because they do not trust their tap water and see filters as a way to help mitigate that. This aligns with our historical data, which found that filtered water is consistently seen as the most trustworthy source of clean drinking water over the past five years. 

While trust in filtered water has generally remained steady at around 50% over this time, there’s been a steady drop in trust for bottled water. In fact, the percentage of Americans who believe bottled water is the most trustworthy source of clean drinking water has dropped from 41% in 2019 and 2020 to just 20% in 2023 (a decrease of 51%).

Awareness and concerns around microplastics may be one explanation for the drop in the perceived trustworthiness of bottled water. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in size, which may not be visible to the naked eye. They come from plastic waste as it degrades, can be ingested without you knowing, and are associated with a range of health impacts. 

Our survey found that 94% of Americans are at least somewhat familiar with microplastics, and 89% are at least somewhat concerned about microplastics being in their drinking water. Furthermore, more than a quarter (26%) are very concerned about microplastics being in their drinking water. 

Their concern may be warranted, as a study analyzing samples from 259 bottled waters found that 93% of them contained microplastics. As bottled water sits, tiny microscopic particles break off from the bottles and may be ingested when a person drinks. Water filters can be used to reduce microplastics and make water healthier, such as Aquasana systems featuring Claryum® technology that are certified to remove up to 99% of microplastics, among other contaminants.

What contaminants concern people the most in 2023 and how has this changed over time?

Water filters make water safer to drink by removing contaminants, but which contaminants concern people the most? To find out, we asked Americans what their top water contaminant concern was in 2023. Here were the top five answers, with a visual breakdown of the complete results:

  • Chlorine/Chloramines: 24% 
  • Lead: 16%
  • PFOA/PFOS: 14% 
  • Pesticides & Herbicides: 14% 
  • Bacteria, Cysts, & Viruses: 14%

Before we dive into the long-term trends behind the top concerns, we wanted to note that Aquasana countertop and under sink systems are all certified to reduce up to 99% of each of the top five contaminants, and up to 89 contaminants in total. If you’re concerned about any of these contaminants affecting the safety of your tap water, get a system that’s certified to address the contaminants in your water.

Chlorine and Chloramines: 24%

Chlorine and chloramines are Americans’ top water contaminant concerns in 2023, and concern for these contaminants has steadily increased over the last four years. For context, just 14% of Americans selected chlorine and chloramines as their top contaminant concern in 2020, but nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans listed it as their top selection in 2023, marking a 71% increase.

For those wondering how chlorine and chloramines get in our drinking water and why they’re bad, here’s what you need to know. These chemicals are frequently used in water treatment facilities by public municipalities. Chlorine and chloramines are great at disinfecting water by killing microorganisms that cause disease, but trace amounts of the chemicals can linger after the treatment process and even create disinfection byproducts (new chemicals) by reacting with contaminants in the water when it’s treated. This means the water you get from your local municipality may have chemical contaminants, even if it’s been treated.

Chlorine and chloramines are also associated with some negative health effects. For example, chlorine vapors that are produced while showering can be especially irritating for those with asthma, and these disinfectants can cause issues for kidney dialysis patients if their water is not properly treated and filtered. Considering that these chemicals often get into water during the treatment process, consumers' best option for protection is investing in a system like the OptimH2O®, which is independently tested to reduce 90% of chlorine and chloramines.

The decreasing concern over lead may be due to reduced media coverage, as outlets are opting to focus on newer contaminants like PFAS. Our data supports this hypothesis, as we asked people who selected lead as their top contaminant about their reason for doing so, and there was a 44% drop in the percentage of people who said it’s because lead is the contaminant they hear about most often in the media (27% to 15%). Increased media coverage about other contaminants would likely also contribute to higher knowledge about water quality that we touched on earlier.

Despite minimized concern about lead overall, we saw there was a major spike (224%) in the percentage of people who listed lead as their top concern because it was found in their home’s water (17% to 55%). The exact cause of the spike is hard to determine, although it could be related to lead leaching, which occurs when chloramines interact with lead pipes and cause trace amounts to dissolve into tap water. As municipalities switch from chlorine to chloramines in the coming years, we may see lead contamination become more common.

PFOA/PFOS; Pesticides and Herbicides; Bacteria, Cysts and Viruses (tied): 14%

Tied for the third spot, we saw an equal number of Americans (14% each) select PFOA/PFOS, pesticides and herbicides, and bacteria, cysts and viruses as their top contaminant concern of 2023. The most prominent findings are around PFOA/PFOS, but we’ll provide an analysis of each contaminant group.


The reason why we’re talking about PFOA/PFOS first is because it had a massive spike in the percentage of people who selected it in 2023. For context, we saw just 3% of people select PFOA/PFOS as their top concern in 2020, and this grew to 4% in 2021 and 5% in 2022 — suggesting more people were slowly becoming aware of and concerned with these contaminants. However, in 2023 we saw an unprecedented increase to 14% (marking a 367% change since 2020).

Tying back to the central theme of our survey data analysis, increased knowledge seems to be tied to higher concern. In the case of PFOA/PFOS, the increase in concern we’ve seen correlates with more familiarity with the contaminant on the whole. For the past five years, we’ve asked Americans:

“How familiar are you with PFOA/PFOS as it relates to water?”

The results:

  • 2019: 27%
  • 2020: 26% 
  • 2021: 33% 
  • 2022: 61% 
  • 2023: 88%

Since 2020, we’ve seen a steady increase in familiarity with PFOA/PFOS chemicals as they relate to water. There was a prominent jump in 2022, and 2023 followed that up with a similar leap. As of today, 88% of Americans are at least somewhat familiar with PFOA/PFOS, which is likely what’s driving the higher concern.

Pesticides and Herbicides

There was a slight decrease in concern regarding pesticides and herbicides between 2022 and 2023, but the change in the past four years has been pretty minimal overall and is likely within the realm of normal variation.

In a 2022 survey post, we discussed how natural disasters can lead to pesticides and herbicides contaminating drinking water. These chemicals are used in farming, gardens, and lawns in order to keep bugs and weeds away. However, natural disasters like mudslides, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires can displace soil containing these contaminants into freshwater supplies. Beyond the actual contamination of water supplies, sometimes these natural disasters cause physical damage to water treatment facilities which can make it hard to get clean water in times of emergency.

Bacteria, Cysts, and Viruses

Concern over bacteria, cysts and viruses peaked during heavy pandemic years, but has since dropped over time. As we get further away from the peak of COVID-19, fewer Americans are selecting bacteria, cysts and viruses as their top contaminant concern. When we conducted our survey in 2021, nearly a quarter (24%) of Americans selected this as their top concern, slightly behind lead. The drop to just 14% in 2023 represents a 42% decrease in the last three years, and it’s possible this may continue to decline as we’re farther away from the pandemic and American concern shifts to other contaminants being discussed prominently in the news. 

Key takeaways from our survey data

Overall, in 2023 we’re seeing that 70% of Americans are concerned about the quality of tap water in their home, a figure that’s increased each of the last three years. We believe the increase in concern is tied to growing knowledge about water quality, which has also correlated with record usage of water filters. We’ve also seen that the environment, health, and a lack of trust are motivating factors behind 9 out of 10 Americans using a water filter in 2023. 

When diving into our extensive data on Americans’ top contaminant concerns, chlorine and chloramines took the top spot after four years of steady growth, dethroning lead which has seen a decline since 2020. Meanwhile, PFOA/PFOS took an unprecedented leap and made it near the top of the list of contaminant concerns for the first time in the history of our survey. For more information about our survey results, check back for follow-up posts that walk through additional 2023 findings.

Survey Methodology and Definitions

The findings presented in this article are the result of an April 2023 study of 2,414 U.S. adults, conducted by Aquasana. (Confidence Level: 95%, Margin of Error: 2%)

Age Cohorts (based on Pew Research

  • Baby Boomers: 1946-64
  • Gen X: 1965-80 
  • Millennials: 1981-96
  • Gen Z: 1997-2012
  • For Age-Based Data – Confidence Level: 95%, Margin of Error: 3-9%