Filter companies trying to tap concerns about water

June 14, 1992|By Lisa M. Wiseman | Lisa M. Wiseman,Contributing Writer

In a June 15 article about water filter companies, the full name of one of the companies was omitted.

The correct name is Advanced Filter Technologies Inc.

Also, the retail price of the company's water filter, the Aquamax unit, should have been $189. The $630 price listed in the article is for a water dispenser unit that includes the filter.

On a hot summer's day, nothing could be more pure and refreshing than a cold glass of ice water, right?

But with the news about the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) in two county water wells and the efforts of county officials to determine if chemicals from dumps are seeping into ground water, some water filter companies are hoping worried Harford residents will buy their products.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Manufacturers of home water-filtering equipment are pitching their products for "better" and "safer" water.

There are a variety of filters on the market, ranging from models costing around $30 which can be found at local hardware stores to full home and sediment treatment systems that will cost $500 to $600.

Two local companies, Chesapeake Group International, based in Abingdon; and Afti Filter Technologies, based in Forest Hill, are trying to tap the filtered water market.

Mike Davall, an Abingdon resident and president of Chesapeake Group, has only been in business since April 20. He's building up a sales force and speeding his plans for production.

Davall says the news that two county wells are contaminated with TCE -- a suspected carcinogen -- has made public water users "a prime market for me."

"But there's more to it than that. We don't sell on scare tactics," said. "The water may be fit to drink, but with the filter, the water just tastes better."

And "better," contend the water filter companies, means "healthier."

Lillian Fernandez, marketing director at Afti, cites that her company's product, called The Aquamax, is designed to work on filtering different organic and chemical compounds.

The company pitches its Aquamax system as perfect for those who rely on well water and are concerned about chemical contamination.

Both companies have different approaches to the "best" way to filter water.

Chesapeake Group's systems range from $49 for a portable model to $539 for a whole-house unit.

All of the units are equipped with a filter made of granular activated charcoal with silver. The charcoal will remove chlorine, rust and any bad taste or odor water might have. Davall says regular charcoal filters work at purifying water, but they can also leave bacteria to grow. The silver inhibits bacteria growth in the filter.

Afti's Aquamax system, which sells for $630, has a three-layered system: a semi-rigid spun polymer bed; an electro-chemical layer; and a steam-prewashed layer of granular activated carbon.

Each layer is designed to remove different impurities. Fernandez says that the system may sound more dangerous than drinking contaminated water, but that it's perfectly safe. "It sounds scary, only because this is a relatively new process," she said.

Both companies say their systems have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But despite the news about water contamination, both companies say they haven't seen "drastic" increases in sales. They have noted a gradual increase along with customer interest in water filtration systems.

Several local hardware stores said they haven't seen an increase in sales in water filtering products.

Bill Clark, owner of Clark's Hardware in Dublin, said that people shouldn't be worried about the reports on drinking water.

"One thing you've got to remember is that the testing procedures are more sophisticated today. Now, you regularly find trace elements of things that have always been there," he said.

"We've been plumbers since 1945. Most of these water conditioning people have you believe that the water is eating a hole in your stomach, and that's just not true. The Health Department will tell you if your water is unsafe."

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