TOKYO – Magnets have no significant role in treating water, despite the claims of their manufacturers, according to a new study by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan.

So-called magnetic water treatment devices, which are said to remove and reduce residual chlorine and toxic substances through magnetism, have practically no effect, the center said Wednesday.

Most of the devices and systems employing magnets do not use filters, a standard feature in other water purifiers, and they are mounted on the faucet or pipes, meaning the magnets never come into direct contact with the water.

Companies manufacturing or selling the devices – often over the Internet or door-to-door – claim to improve the taste of water, giving it a “softer, mellower,” flavor through magnetism.

In June and July, the center tested six models – ranging in price from 2,800 yen to 230,000 yen – that claimed to remove and reduce residual chlorine and trihalomethane, a suspected carcinogen. The test found that the density of residual chlorine and trihalomethane in water remained unchanged after using the magnetic device.

Concluding the devices have no practical effect on the removal or reduction of such substances, the consumer affairs center demanded the industry group change its labeling and advertising. It also asked the Fair Trade Commission to order the dealers to stop making the claims.

(c) 2008, The Yomiuri Shimbun.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-08-21-08 1517EDT

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