Thursday, June 13, 2013

Best drinking water filters

 A reader asks:
It was quite a schlepp to haul bottles of water up 4 flights of stairs to our NYC apartment before Hurricane Sandy. Now it’s storm season again, we’re looking for a faucet-mounted water filter, so we can fill our own.
I also hate throwing used Brita-type filters away.
What kind of filter is best to protect our health and the environment?
You need a filter that removes everyday contaminants so the drinking water you store will be pure.
And you’ll also want your filter to remove any pathogens carried by storm runoff into reservoirs.

Brita, Pur, and Zero Water carafes and faucet-mounted filters use activated carbon, which removes most microbes that can contaminate your water supply during storms.

What are your everyday contaminants? You can check your utility’s water quality report to find out what, if any, are contaminants of concern. Renters can request one; the Natural Resources Defense Council provides helpful guidance. Then check NSF’s certification listings for filters that best remove those contaminants.
But there’s drinking water and then there’s your tap water.
Aside from your muncipality’s drinking water supply, contaminants can leach into water from your building’s pipes.
Old pipes are often lined with lead, the toxic heavy metal which is the single greatest environmental health threat to the developing brains and nervous systems of babies and children, and should be strenuously avoided by pregnant women.

The only way to find out if there’s lead in your water is to have it tested by an EPA-certified lab.

Tip:  Warm water will have more lead in it than cold water, so if you’re not sure, let water run for 60 seconds to flush out pipes and chill out before drinking. (Collect for plants or washing dishes.)

While carbon filters such as Pur claim to remove 99 percent of lead, that doesn’t necessarily mean they meet new lead reduction standards, according to Richard Andrew, general manager of the Drinking Water Treatment Unit of National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), which certifies water-filtration systems.  Standards for filtering lead in drinking water were updated in July 2012 after the revised Safe Drinking Water Act in 2011.

Andrew says that more complicated, expensive reverse osmosis water filtration systems are best at removing heavy metals, such as calcium, arsenic and  lead.

The only carbon filter currently NSF certified for lead removal by NSF is Zero Water’s, Andrew says.

But you know what? I vote for being prepared for storm surges with any filter rather than none, and a carbon-activated faucet and/or carafe picher is the easiest way to do it.

Recycling carbon filters

Happily, recycling carbon filters is a growing trend, Andrew says, and NSF has added “sustainability evaluations” to its certifying criteria. “We continue to raise the bar over time,” he says.
You can send Brita filters to be recycled through the company’s partnership with Preserve, Filter for Good. You can mail or drop off your Brita cartridges (along with yogurt containers and other #5 plastics) at participating Whole Foods Markets and other locations. Preserve makes the plastic into post-consumer food tools and tableware, and the carbon is “regenerated for alternative use or converted into energy,” according to Brita’s website. Participants also get discount coupons for Preserve’s bright, durable, ultra green products.
Zero Water also has a recycling program for their pitcher and faucet carbon cartridges. You mail them at your own expense, and the company gives you a $10 coupon towards your next cartridge purchase.
More About Reverse Osmosis (RO)
RO systems are best at removing heavy metals, such as calcium, arsenic, and especially lead, Andrew says.
But because RO membranes collect dirt and bacteria and can develop holes, RO systems need to be inspected annually, and the membranes either cleaned or replaced, according to the green homeowners’ bible, Prescriptions for a Healthy House.
For more information, check out NSF’s consumer home drinking water treatment guide.

Green Bargain! For carefully researched and vetted lists of products, what to choose and what to lose when it comes to ingredients and labels, see my book, Do One Green Thing:  Saving the Earth through Simple, Everyday Choices!

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Thank you!


Sarita Rosenhaus Coren said...

This is a wonderful post! I thought I would share a complimentary post from Organic Lifestyle TV about the need for filtration and the condition of water:

tony monkian said...

Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand the topic, thank you!
drinking water system

Martin Clukey said...

Filtering your drinking water “on the go” or “for the go” is a lot easier than you may think. We are all quite busy these days with jobs, school, appointments, kid’s activities and a plethora of other things that keep - See more at:

rizwan fillcraft said...

The crew were members of the Green Apple Corps with assistance of staff from CENYC and direction from home water filter ny Lenny Librizzi.

Loretta Fontaine (EcoHappy Blog) said...

Mindy - Thank you for the info!

There is a Whole Foods just opened near us - nice to know you can bring filters there to recycle!!!


Taufique Hossain said...

Now a days its very difficult to get the 100% pure water in this polluted world. But pure water is essential for all. To ensure 100% pure water for all, I want to welcome you to Apex water filtration system at Leading manufacturers of residential water filter and commercial water filters in CA, USA. At Apex Water Filters you will get your drinking water filter, shower filter and various royal prestige at your affordable rate. We have 5 reverse osmosis systems for water filtration system to purify water. If you are looking for aquarium filters and faucet diverter valve then Apex Water filter is the best place where you will get free shipping on these items when you purchase 1 or more Qualifying items.

Loretta Fontaine (EcoHappy Blog) said...

Thank you Penny!

As a Kickstarter fan, we are trying the glass carafe SOMA. Sitting on my counter, right now!

Your thoughts on it?


Sylvia Sanderson said...

This was such a valuable article to know how filtering is done. I'm looking to drink cleaner water. I think this gave me a good insight with what to look for, thanks!

Tyrone Bobby Joe Hill said...

My wife and I have been looking into a tap water filter for a while now. There have been some reports of dangerous chemicals in the water in our area lately. We want to keep our kids healthy. This definitely gives us a good place to start. Hopefully we find a good one. Thanks for the post!

Roger Pace said...

One thing that my parents got for our new kitchen is a nice water filter. I love it and never knew what water filters did until I tried using one. Water filters are awesome, and there are so many different kinds to choose from. You can find one that's perfect for your budget and sink.

Josephine Bernie said...

Water is essential for health, hygiene and the productivity of our community. water treatment process may vary on the water condition that you have in your area. its better to invest on a good water treatment. it will benefit you by providing safety to you and your family.