Water testing

What you need to know about door to door water testing

As you may know, Ontario water purification companies are using some questionable tactics to make people think their tap water is dirty. The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) also uncovered sales pitches laced with scary warnings to sell products that cost thousands of dollars.

To alert the public, the MOE worked with the Ministry of Consumer Services (MCS) on a web page called What You Need to Know About Door to Door Water Testing based on a vignette in the 2008-2009 Chief’s Drinking Water Inspector Report.

  • No one coming door-to-door is authorized to make a health-based test on your water.
  • Door-to-door water tests do not tell you about water safety.
  • Chemical trickery may make your water look brown, just because of natural mineral content.
  • If you have any concerns about water safety, contact your municipality or your local health unit.
  • If you believe you may have been misled by a door-to-door salesperson, learn more about your rights under the Consumer Protection Act.

Door to door water testing

Excerpt from Ontario’s Chief Drinking Water Inspector’s 2008-09 Annual Report: Ministry of The Environment

If a test of your tap water produces a brown substance is it safe to drink? Truth is, such tests are absolutely meaningless in terms of assessing water safety. Unfortunately, some door-to-door salespersons have been causing unnecessary concern as a way of luring Ontarians, especially seniors, into buying costly reverse osmosis treatment units.

How do the tests work? First, an electric current is used to activate naturally occurring minerals and make the water turn brown. Then, the treatment removes the minerals from the tap water, making the brown colour disappear. The test does not and cannot identify contamination that could cause illness.

“In Ontario, only fully accredited laboratories licensed to perform drinking water testing – not home-based testers – are authorized to perform health-based tests on drinking water,” said John Stager, Ontario’s Chief Drinking Water Inspector. “Our stringent standards for these labs make the province’s municipal tap water among the best protected in the world. Ontarians can have confidence that their tap water is safe to drink.”

Stager further recommends: “If you have been approached by someone offering to test your drinking water, I advise you to immediately contact your municipality, or your local health unit. They can answer any questions you may have. If a salesperson claims that your drinking water is unsafe or claims to be testing the safety of your drinking water, please contact the Ministry of the Environment immediately and we will follow up.”

To contact the Ministry of the Environment, call the Public Information Centre toll free at 1-800-565-4923, or 416-325-4000 in Toronto. If fraud is suspected, you may also contact your local police force or the Ministry of Consumer Services at 416-326-8800 in Toronto or 1-800-889-9768 toll-free.

Read more of the Minister’s Annual Report on Drinking Water (2012)