Are there any benefits from drinking filtered water as opposed to municipal tap water?
The short answer is yes. While the Environmental Protection Agency regulates municipal tap water and sets legal limits on certain contaminants, and most water utilities generally stay within these limits, “some of the legal limits may be too lenient,” said Paul Pestano, a research analyst with the Environmental Working Group. And more than half of the chemicals found in municipal water are not regulated.
Using the right water purifiers can help further reduce pollutants like lead from old water pipes, pesticide runoff in rural areas and byproducts of chemicals like chlorine that are used to treat drinking water. Radon, arsenic and nitrates are common pollutants in drinking water, and trace amounts of drugs including antibiotics and hormones have also been found. Certain filters may help remove these impurities as well.
If tap water is likely full of dangerous, cancer- and birth defect-causing chemicals and bottled water is nothing more than tap water with a fancy label, what other options do we have? I’m glad you asked!
Home water filtration is tricky business, and no one wants to waste their money on expensive filtration systems that don’t actually work or that may be harmful. Here are your options, from worst to best:
Reverse osmosis works by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane to General Electric Refrigerator Water Filter out contaminants. If the contaminants are larger than water molecules, the filter will “catch” them and remove them from the water. If they are the same size or smaller than water molecules, they remain in the water. RO water is primarily used for drinking and some cooking, meaning that bathing water is still contaminated tap water.
Promoters of RO water are right about one thing: the process of reverse osmosis does remove many of the toxins from tap water, such as lead, copper, arsenic, nitrates, organic chemicals, and fluoride (source) — but NONE are removed 100%. RO filters are not able to remove gases, such as chlorine, or particles smaller than water molecules, such as VOCs and endocrine disruptors, so they must be paired with a carbon filter.
The major downfall of RO is that it also removes essential minerals from water. In fact, up to 99% of calcium and magnesium is cheap refrigerator water filters out of RO water — and that’s not good (source). Interestingly, it is not recommended to culture water kefir in RO water because of the lack of minerals to keep the cultures healthy (source). If it’s not good for your water kefir grains, it’s probably not good for you either!
Leading alternative practitioner Dr. Lawrence Wilson says that RO water has a chelating effect, and when consumed for months at a time, actually chelates minerals out of the body, producing an even greater mineral deficiency (source). Nutritionist Daniel Vitalis calls RO water the “white flour” of water, because it is so void of any nutritional value (source). Sure, it is free of the toxins in tap water, but it is also free of the beneficial minerals and electrolytes that are essential to good health.
Pitcher filters, like Brita, use granulated activated charcoal to remove toxins. A University of Arizona study concluded that between 49% to 80% of a select few contaminants were removed by pitcher filters like Brita and Pur. This means that between 20% and 100% of contaminants were left behind (source). While effective at removing unpleasant tastes or odors from tap water, pitcher filters do not remove VOCs, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, or fluoride.
Another downside to pitcher filters is that they can take from 30 to 60 minutes to filter water, and they’re not that big. If you have more than one or two people drinking that water, and you’re using it for cooking, this is quite inconvenient and inefficient. Filter cartridges need to be changed often to keep up filtration, which can be costly in the long run, especially if your municipal water is very contaminated. Like RO, pitcher filters may take care of some toxins in your drinking and cooking water, but what about bathing and cleaning water?
Point-of-Use Shower and Bath faucet filter lead
Drinking chlorinated tap water is no good, but did you know that showering in it may actually be worse? The whole reasoning behind why our government adds chlorine to our water is to kill potentially harmful organisms. Wouldn’t it make sense that, if we are living organisms, chlorine is harmful to us as well?
But water contaminants and water quality vary from one local water utility to another, so you want to purchase a filter that is effective at capturing the right contaminants.
You can request a copy of your water utility’s annual water quality report – called a right-to-know or consumer confidence report — to find out which contaminants in your local water are of concern. Some utilities will also run a free lead test on your tap water.
You can then choose a filter that is certified by NSF International, an independent public health organization that assesses products.
Note that it is not enough to buy or install a best refrigerator water filter ; you need to replace or maintain filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Filtering tap water may be even more important if you are pregnant, older, have young children or suffer from a chronic illness or compromised immune system.
Bottled filtered water is also available, but most environmental groups discourage use of bottled water because of the waste generated; in addition, bottled water is not regulated as stringently as municipal tap water, and contaminants can leach from damaged or overheated plastic into the water.