Public perceptions for the use of nanomaterials for in-home drinking water purification devices

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Incorporating nanomaterials into point-of-use (POU) in-home water purification devices that treat well water or centrally-treated tap water offers new opportunities to meet growing customer demand for aesthetically pleasing and higher quality drinking water. While the technical performance and potential for nanomaterial release from POU devices have been studied, little is known about public acceptance of devices that use nanotechnology. We administered an 18-question survey of 1623 participants in four metropolitan areas—Phoenix, AZ (N = 362); Houston, TX (N = 380); Atlanta, GA (N = 419); and Philadelphia, PA (N = 415)—and one rural Arizona region (N = 47) to assess perceptions around using nanomaterial-enabled POU devices. Approximately 90% of survey respondents had little to no prior knowledge of nanomaterials or their use in numerous consumer products ranging from POU water treatment devices to clothing or baby products. Survey respondents were more likely to purchase conventional drinking water purification devices than ones containing nanomaterials, but the majority of survey respondents (~64%) claimed they would likely or probably change their opinions around using nanomaterials to treat their drinking water if they were given more information about nanomaterials and their role in treating drinking water. The results indicate that respondents are willing to change their minds if they are provided information around nanomaterials and their use in in-home water purification. When we incorporated responses regarding previous knowledge of nanomaterials, we found that the less knowledge respondents had of nanomaterials, the more willing they would be to use them to treat their drinking water. 65% of respondents with prior knowledge of nanomaterials were unwilling to drink water treated with nanomaterials. Respondents considered the safety of the device as being most important to them, followed closely by treated water taste. 30% of respondents stated that they would purchase the drinking water purification product with nanomaterials if it worked as effectively as a competitor and was half the price. 26% of respondents stated that they would purchase the drinking water purification product with nanomaterials if it worked twice as effectively as a competitor and was half the price. The findings are discussed in regard to specific adoption of nanotechnology in drinking water and also broader adoption and acceptance of emerging technologies that hold promise to improve environmental outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100220
JournalNanoImpact
Volume18
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Drinking water
  • Nanomaterials
  • Point-of-use
  • Public perception
  • Water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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