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Water Quality Association:


WQA’S Professional Certification Designations

The Professional Certification Program tests and certifies only individuals, not dealerships or companies.  Membership in WQA is not required for certification.  Four different professional certifications are offered: 

Certified Water Specialist  (CWS)  Offered for individuals who own or are active in managing a business involved in the safe, installation and/or manufacturing of water quality improvement products and services.  Once an individual has reached the first level of CWS achievement, he or she is eligible to be certified in four more-advanced levels (CWS II through V).  These levels focus on specific areas of expertise, such as disinfection, filtration, reverse osmosis and deionization.

Certified Installer (CI)  Offered for individuals who are responsible for planning, installing and or servicing water quality products.

 WQA’s Professional Certification Program was created in 1977  “…in the exercise of its responsibilities to provide education and professional development programs for the industry, and for the well-being of the public…”

Water Quality Association

International Headquarters and Laboratory

4151 Naperville Road

Lisle, Illinois  60532-1088

Facsimile:  630-505-9637

Telephone:  630-505-0160 

For more information please visit the WQA's web site at:


Common Water Quality Problems:

Aesthetics  Otherwise harmless contaminants like chlorine, sulfur, iron and manganese that cause taste, color and odor problems.

Water Hardness  Hard water contains excessive levels of the minerals calcium and magnesium, a condition found in 85 percent of the United States.  Hard water shortens the life of household plumbing and water-using appliances, makes cleaning and laundering tasks more difficult and gradually decreases the efficiency of water heaters.   

Lead  Used extensively in plumbing materials (pipes and lead-based solder) until the late 1980’s, lead can leach into water supplies.  Low levels of lead have been linked to learning disabilities in young children and high levels can cause hypertension in adults.

Biological Pathogens  Waterborne organisms that can cause disease in humans.  They include cysts like cryptosporidium and giardia; bacteria like typhus, fecal coliform and cholera; and viruses like influenza.  These organisms typically cause unpleasant intestinal disorders and can pose a significant threat to the immune-impaired. 

Nitrates  Nitrogen compounds are sometimes found in ground and surface water in rural areas, often as a result of nitrogen-based fertilizer runoff.  Excessive nitrate levels can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, especially in babies and have been linked to high incidences of miscarriage.

Heavy Metals  Metals like mercury, zinc, copper and cadmium usually enter the water supply as industrial waste and, in excessive concentrations, can cause physiological damage to humans, including damage to the central nervous system.

Radium/Radon  Naturally occurring radioactive elements linked to cancer in humans.  Radon is found in gaseous form and is absorbed through drinking, as well as through inhalation during washing or showering. 

VOCs  Volatile organic compounds, such as the petroleum distillate benzene and the industrial degreasing solution trichloroethylene.  High concentrations of VOCs are linked to organ damage and cancer in humans. 

THMs  Trihalomethanes are by-products produced when chlorine reacts with organic compounds in water.  THMs are primarily absorbed through inhalation and have been linked to bladder d rectal cancer.

Asbestos  A fibrous mineral that contaminates water naturally or through its past use in concrete water pipes.  Asbestos has been linked to lung and other forms of cancer. 

Arsenic  Both a natural and manufacturing-induced ground water contaminant, arsenic is linked to various cancers and may damage the circulatory and central nervous systems.

 Sediments  Solid particulates in water that can settle out over time.  The presence of sediments in water is typically an aesthetic concern.

 Low/High pH  pH refers to “potential hydrogen” and is a measure of acidity or alkalinity on a 14-point scale (zero through six is acidic, seven is neutral, and eight through 14 is alkaline).  Extreme measures of acidity in water can be corrosive, whereas high levels of alkalinity can be the source of aesthetic problems.

Household Water Treatment Technologies:

Different Solutions for Different Conditions

    No single water treatment technology is effective in treating all water problems, which can range from scale-depositing hard water to disease-causing organisms like cryptosporidium.  Specific technologies are applied to meet specific needs, either individually or in combination.  Equipment using the various water treatment technologies is applied at the point-of-use (POL), such as the kitchen sink where water is actually drawn for drinking or cooking, or at the point-of-entry (POE), where water enters a home or business.

Water Filters Water passes through a filter media, such as a solid block carbon filter or a granular activated carbon filter (usually a cartridge in smaller units), which either absorbs or physically screens out various contaminants.

Reverse Osmosis  Reverse osmosis (RO) systems pass water through a synthetic, semi-permeable membrane that rejects most contaminants.  Virtually all RO units have carbon pre- and/or post-filters to provide additional treatment for health related contaminants. We've dedicated an entire page to this subject- see our Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Systems page.

Distillation  Distillers heat water in one chamber and turn it into steam.  The steam then passes through a coiled line into another chamber, where it is condensed back into water.  More than 99 percent of aesthetic- and health-related contaminants, such as lead, some heavy metals, bacteria and cysts, remain in the heating chamber. 

Water Softening  Water softeners use the “ion exchange” principle to exchange ions of either sodium or potassium for ions of hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) present in the source water.  Some health related contaminants also can be treated, such as radium and low levels of lead.  An offshoot of the technology using “anion exchange” reduces arsenic, nitrates and mercury. 

Oxidants  Oxidizing chemicals like chlorine, bromine and ozone are added to water through a feed system that controls concentration and allows appropriate contact time.  These chemicals neutralize aesthetic organic contaminants in the water and also kill a variety of biological pathogens.

Ultraviolet  Ultraviolet (UV) systems use ultraviolet light to eliminate various biological pathogens. 

Aeration  Aerators temporarily store source water in a tank to allow easily evaporated volatile contaminants to be vented off.  Air can be bubbled through the water to speed the evaporation process.

    ***The performance of equipment can vary, so it is important to look for products which have been tested and proven successful for the specific contaminant(s) to be treated.  



State of Ohio Plumbing License #38188


(330)823-2084, (330)823-2522, (800)233-2084

Last modified: September 12, 2011