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Safe Drinking Water Standards

Water Softening & Filtering: Acronyms and Abbreviations

When people first start looking for a guide that can help them to find a suitable water softener or a faucet water filter for their home, they often get confused with the many water softener abbreviations and terms used to describe the features and functioning of filters or softeners.

To help you overcome the jargon, we decided to prepare this post to help you understand any abbreviations or technical terms you come across and haven’t got a clue what they mean.

So here it goes...

CTO -- Chlorine, Taste, Odor

The name speaks for itself and is frequently found in Water filters that contain cartridges.

DBP -- Disinfection by-product. 

These are potentially toxic chemical compounds which are formed in low concentrations throughout the disinfection of water supplies. Most often, they're the by-product of chlorination.

GAC -- Granular Activated Carbons

Often manufacturers use this term while describing a kind of filter they have used in their product; the element that is responsible for ensuring both the flavor and odor of your water.

Granular activated carbons contain thousands of "mini-pores" to absorb water contaminants and improve the quality of water.

GPD -- Gallons per Day

The water volume is used in GPM (Gallons per day).

MCL -- Maximum Contaminant Level

The limit that the EPA set has to protect your health when chemicals are added at the source.

MF -- Microfiltration.

This term describes membrane filter usually involving the dimensions of 0.1 to 10 microns (µm). It's often distinguished from nanofiltration and reverse osmosis from the fact that it doesn't need stress (although pressure is frequently applied).

NSF -- National Sanitation Foundation 

A top "third party" certifying company for water treatment equipment.

ORP -- Oxidation-reduction possible. 

ORP is a measurement of the electrical capability of water to start the oxidation-reduction process.

POU -- Point or use

This term is used to describe treatment equipment that treats water at the point of use only. An under sink filter is a good example.

PSI -- Pounds per Square Inch

While considering water pressure, you will come across this abbreviation. The higher number indicates the higher water pressure.

RO -- Reverse Osmosis

These are the water filtration methods that use TFC. The term reverse osmosis means the pressure is applied to force the water through the membrane to filter the contaminants.

SDWA -- Safe Drinking Water Act

It is the Safe Drinking Water Act  that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation.

TAC -- Template Assisted Crystallization

A technique of scale control used as a substitute for traditional water softening.

TOC -- Total Organic Carbon

The total amount carbon of binding in a water sample.

TDS -- Total Dissolved Solids

This is the dimension of the amount of total organic or inorganic chemicals found in water. In other words, anything that is present except H2O, (pure water). The higher the TDS measurement, the hard your water will be.

TFC -- Thin Film Composite

You will typically encounter this abbreviation when you are looking at water filters that use reverse osmosis. A TFC usually is a semi-permeable membrane that's used during the filtration procedure.

THMs -- Trihalomethanes

When chlorine comes in contact with specific other naturally occurring elements in water, these toxins are produced and may be a health problem.

UF -- Ultrafiltration

 It is a crossflow filtration method that works between microfiltration and reverses osmosis, between the 0.002 and 0.1-micron range.

VOC -- Volatile Organic Compounds

These are a collection of chemical possessing different properties in common. They easily vaporize or evaporate (thus volatile), and contain carbon (therefore organic). These chemicals are only found in water whenever they come from a different source like chemical spills or oil.


WQA & NSF Certified Water Filters

So, these are some of the specialized water softener abbreviations you may come across. However, there’s a lot to know. There are numerous organizations involved in water filtration and softening, and that also tends to be abbreviated.

So if you've come across one of them, rather than have you go and look for the answer elsewhere on the World Wide Web, we have included them below for you:

ANSI -- American National Standards Institute

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) enables its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. market position in the global market while helping to assure the safety and health of customers and the protection of the environment. ANSI aims to improve both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by enhancing and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and safeguarding their integrity.

EPA -- Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA aims to protect human health as well as the environment. EPA works to ensure that:

Americans have clean air, water, and land;

National practices to overcome environmental risks depend on the best available scientific information;

Federal laws preserving the environment and human health are administered and enforced fairly, effectively and as Congress intended;

NSF -- National Sanity Foundation

NSF International offers a wide range of services for the water industry to help ensure the quality and security of products in the marketplace. Separate from helping to ease consensus-based criteria, NSF's water plans test and certify products for drinking water, pools/spas, pipes, plastics, and wastewater.

WQA -- Water Quality Association

WQA mainly represents the sector of the water treatment industry dedicated to handling water to the homeowner's or business owner's property. We often refer to the part of treatment as the final barrier that blocks waterborne contaminants from entering a house or corporate offices. 

Whether you get water from a community treatment plant, municipal well or another source, WQA's member organizations are dedicated to making the water safe and aesthetically pleasing for usage and consumption

WQA is an excellent resource of information, a voice to the Industry, a teacher of professionals, and laboratory for product testing.

So, next time you look for a water softener or filter, you will not get confused about water softener abbreviations used. We tried to cover all the acronyms used in water softeners and filtration systems.

Hope you found this post helpful in understanding the terms related to water softening and filtering process.

Additional References:

Ed Carmichael

About the Author Ed Carmichael

Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.

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