Why Filter Your Tap Water?
The Environmental Working Group tested tap water in 45 states a couple of years ago and found 202 chemical contaminants that are not subject to any government regulation or safety standards for drinking water.
- Chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and by-products from the chlorination process
- Residue from waste particles, bacteria and micro-organisms that cause illness
- Heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and more (lead can enter tap water from pipes in older homes long after the water has flowed from a municipal water treatment plant, and is STILL one of the largest preventable sources of poisoning in children!)
What about bottled water? Despite the marketing hype, bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water and it can cost up to 1,900 times more! In fact, industry reports show that up to 44% of bottled water is just tap water, sometimes left unfiltered and tainted with the same pollutants.
Not to mention the single-use plastic being tossed into our landfills, and the shear amount of energy used in production. IOP Science did a study evaluating whether the energy consumed to treat the water itself justified the energy expended to make the plastic bottles. Here's what they found:
Combining all of the energy inputs totals, we estimate that producing bottled water requires…as much as 2000 times the energy cost of producing tap water. Given an annual consumption of 33 billion liters of bottled water in the US, we estimate that the annual consumption of bottled water in the US in 2007 required an energy input equivalent to between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil or a third of a percent of total US primary energy consumption. We estimate that roughly three times this amount was required to satisfy global bottled water demand.
The convenience of bottled water is overwhelmingly negated by the oftentimes poor water quality and energy expenditure in manufacturing. The best choice is to avoid bottled water, and purchase a high quality water filter that removes the largest number of contaminants and saves energy in the process.
Which Water Filters Remove the Most Contaminants?
Choosing the right water filter can be really difficult, especially with the convincing marketing strategies being used. We set the bar pretty high with filtering requirements that include heavy metals, sediment, chemical compounds, pharmaceuticals, and pollutants such as herbicides and pesticides, and after some in-depth research we've confirmed the following brands and styles to be the most effective on the market.
Purifies both treated water and untreated raw water (remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries). The Big Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites, unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury and even food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals. Good for 3,000 gallons per filter element.
5-stage filtration process removes over 99% of heavy metals, and nearly 100% of radioactive elements uranium and cesium, and has an average reduction rate of 99% of chemical compounds, pharmaceuticals and inorganic contaminants including fluoride. Good for 30 gallons.
Reduces chlorine taste and odor along with 53 other contaminants including 95% of heavy metals, agricultural and industrial pollutants, and 99% of cysts and turbidity. Good for 100 gallons.
The KDF 55 granules and process media remove up to 95% of chlorine, reduce hydrogen sulfide, microorganisms, scale and water-soluble heavy metals such as lead, mercury and iron, and also kill bacteria and inhibit the growth of algae and fungi. Good for 10,000 gallons or one year whichever comes first.
Premium, long-lasting 5-stage filtration process treats tap water, well water, hard and soft water at variable pressures and pH extremes. All reverse osmosis systems have the same fundamental functions: Incoming tap water is pushed through the filtering membrane(s) which removes sediment, bacteria, pyrogens (micro-organisms that cause fever and sickness), viruses, hydrocarbons (benzene, petroleum), radioactive contaminants, chlorine, detergents, industrial wastes, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, asbestos, dissolved solids, sodium, lime, sulfates, VOC's, fluoride, and heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium). Made in the USA.
Electric booster pump drives extra 200GPD RO membranes and saves more than 40% of water with 2:1 waste ratio vs 3:1 or greater in other RO filters. A high quality, whole-house system like this one not only offers all the benefits of a reverse osmosis system for your drinking water, but also removes contaminants from steamy vapors you and your family inhale while showering and washing dishes.
*See the under-counter RO system above for a complete list of contaminants that reverse osmosis systems remove/reduce.
What About PUR and Brita Water Filter Pitchers?
We also did extensive research on PUR and Brita filters, but found them to be weak performers in water purification and product quality compared to those listed above. The two companies are fairly equal in every product category except the pitcher systems where PUR outperforms Brita by a whopping 15 contaminants.
And last, but not least: don't forget to choose a stainless steel, glass or BPA-free reusable plastic water bottle to carry your filtered tap water on the go.
P.S. Wondering about NSF Certified water filters? The EWG says if a filter is labeled “NSF certified,” it may be certified their product evaluation company to improve water’s taste and odor but not necessarily guaranteed to remove any specific contaminants. So be sure to read the fine print.
This article was updated on 5/26/2015