Specialty Water Treatment Chemicals: What's Ahead?

Published - Mar 2003| Analyst - Rebecca Wattam| Code - CHM013F
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Report Highlights

  • The water treatment chemical market was worth more than $2.1 billion in 2001, and should increase at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 3.8%.
  • The market for corrosion inhibitors is growing at a slow rate of less than 1% annually.
  • However, the biocide market was worth more than $550 million in 2001, and currently is growing at about 7% per year.
  • Organic polymers work fabulously well. That market is growing at 3.7% per year.


In a planet apparently swimming in water, there seems to be less and less of it to go around. Indeed, there is less clean and safe water available per person each year. Responding to this trend, water treatment has changed considerably in the last 50 years, and new advances and developments continue to shape the market. Federal regulation of natural waters began in 1972 with the Clean Water Act, and has continued to the present. Each new regulation has restricted the use of some chemicals, and increased the use of others. In sum, providing clean water is an increasingly difficult problem and knowledge of potential remedies for contaminated water sources grows in importance. Therefore, although the water treatment chemicals industry is considered a mature market, it also is one that adapts and expands in response to market opportunities.

This BCC technical/marketing study provides an in-depth analysis that forecasts and tracks significant changes in the specialty chemicals used in the water treatment industry. The report looks at seven sectors chosen for their significance and potential for growth (corrosion and scale inhibiting chemicals, biocides and disinfecting chemicals, coagulants and flocculants, filter media and adsorbent chemicals, softeners and pH adjustors, fluoridation agents, and antifoaming and defoaming agents). In so doing, BCC illustrates the complexity of the U.S. specialty chemicals used in the water treatment industry, and the dynamic nature of the market. It also addresses the influence of government regulations, current technology and the economic factors that shape this marketplace.

Because this report consolidates a range of legislative, industrial and technical information into a comprehensive unit, it should be invaluable to decision-makers in the companies that research, develop and supply these chemicals.


This analysis provides:

  • An overview of the industry
  • Analysis of specialty water treatment chemicals by function and market application
  • Coverage of R&D trends in the industry
  • An examination of existing technology and recent advances
  • Five-year projections for market activity and value
  • Analysis of the industry’s structure, including pricing trends, environmental issues, competition and companies involved.


Research for this report began with an in-depth analysis of technical and literature, as well as a review of the history of technology. The methodologies employed in this study include extensive library research and information from BCC internal files, as well as contact with representatives from the leading water-treatment chemicals companies. This report also includes an on-line data search of databases that cover all existing literature and an evaluation of government statistics, company activities, state-of-the-art technology, and patents. Since it revises, expands, and updates an older BCC report, the report contains some historical and background information from the older report. This information conforms to the newer BCC format and the more focused objectives of this report.

Values reflect U.S. sales of specialty water treatment chemicals for the market applications covered in this report. Projections for the 2002 to 2007 time period are given in 2001 constant dollars and represent real growth. Historical values are presented for the given year, with focus on the given year. Overseas activity is also mentioned, which puts the U.S. market into global context. Where precise information was not available, a consensus was made, using a formulation of reasonable assumptions and estimates based on a baseline obtained from historical data.


The information sources for this study include extensive online research, patent literature, worldwide technical journals and magazines, and principals in the industry.

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