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How to Choose the Best Water Filter System

How to Choose the Best Water Filter SystemBuying a water filter is a challenging task.  If you do not get it right the first time, correcting your mistake can be time consuming and very costly.  There are so many water filtration systems.  How do you know which one is the best water filter system for you?  Do you go by what somebody else tells you to buy?

The need for a water filter system

Let me start by saying that, unfortunately, everybody needs a water filter now because our water is polluted.

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 is supposed to protect our water supply, but in practice, it does not always work well.  Records have shown that 49 million Americans drink water that contains illegal concentrations of chemicals such as arsenic, dangerous bacteria, and radioactive substances.

Best water Filter System for your health

Another problem with the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 is that it only covers 91 contaminants.  In reality, there are over 85,000 chemicals used commercially within the United States (source).  Many of those chemicals find their ways into our streams, rivers, lakes, and, ultimately, into our water supplies.

Holistic health providers recognize the need to drink clean water.  Thus, if you are a fan of alternative medicine like me, you will see that integrative or functional medicine providers recommend using a water filter as a prescription to better health, which is great!  However, it seems like almost every functional medicine doctor or other holistic health provider has decided on one particular water filter brand that they deem the best.  Should you conclude without more research that this is the best water filter system for you?

Your choice of the best water filter system will depend on disinfectants

After years of research into various water filter media and contaminants that can be found in your tap water, I must politely disagree.  And here is why.  Everybody’s tap water is different and so everybody’s filtration needs are different.

One of the main reasons everyone’s water is unique is that the issue depends on the contaminants found in water.  Now, let’s talk about common contaminants that might be present in your drinking water.

Chlorine and chloramine

Water municipalities normally either use chlorine or chloramine (which is made from chlorine and ammonia) to kill pathogens, viruses and mold in our drinking water, which is needed and great.

Unfortunately, over years, some Cryptosporidium bacteria have grown resistant to chlorine, and so many water municipalities are switching to chloramine to deal with this problem.

So, it’s good that our water contains these disinfectants.  However, the problem is that we don’t want to drink these disinfectants, and so we need to remove them from our water before we do so.

Chloramine is harder to remove from drinking water than chlorine.  Normally, a granular carbon filter can’t remove chloramine.  You would need catalytic carbon media in your water filter system to deal with chloramine.

Thus, if somebody tells you that the best water filter system is X, you first need to find out whether you have chlorine or chloramine in your water.  And if you have chloramine, find out if that so-called best water filtration system has a media called catalytic carbon that deals with chloramine.  That is specifically important when it comes to choosing the best whole house water filtration systems.

Lead in your drinking water

In addition, chloramine has a tendency to pull more lead from lead-soldered water pipes (source).  So if you have lead-soldered water pipes and your municipality switches from chlorine to chloramine, you can expect more lead showing up in your drinking water.  Most of the houses built before the mid-1980s would most likely have lead-soldered water pipes.

You might have heard that lead is toxic to the developing brain and nervous system in children.  But it does more harm than that.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified lead as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (source).

Recent epidemiological studies have shown that ongoing non-occupational exposure to lead is associated with higher death rates due to cancer (source).  This is probably because lead causes DNA damage and inhibits DNA repair.

Best water Filter System for your health

Lead may also increase the harmful effects of other carcinogens to which you are exposed (source).

The Federal government regulates lead in tap water and allows 0.015 milligrams per liter, which is the equivalent of 15 micrograms per liter or 15 parts per billion (ppb).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead for children.  However, the Federal government considers the 15 ppb level safe.  This is most likely a number compromised between industries and health advocates.

The Environmental Working Group’s limit for lead is 0.2 ppb, which is 30 times less than the government’s standard (source).  And they base their limits solely on health impact, not the compromise between the health impact and the cost of removing a contaminant.

The recent investigation by USA Today found dangerous levels of lead in 2,000 water systems in all 50 states, including an elementary school in Maine that was 42 times higher than the EPA limit of 15 parts per billion (source).

Best Water Filter System For You

Thus, if your water is chloramined and you have lead-soldered water pipes, your best water filter system has to be able to remove lead, not just reduce it.

Your choice of the best water filter system will also depend on fluoridation

Before the 1950s, when fluoride started being added to the public water supply, it was considered an environmental pollutant resulting from the aluminum and phosphate fertilizer industries.  The manufacturers had to pay fines to the EPA for polluting the environment.

If curious to learn more about the history of fluoridated water and unexpected sources of fluoride exposure, check out the book The Hidden Causes of Acne, a recent investigation by a former intelligence officer.

The best water filter system for you

When governments decided to add fluoride to water, very little health research was performed.

A recent study requested by the EPA reported that even current levels of fluoride may cause tooth and bone damage.

There is also growing evidence that fluoride is associated with an underactive thyroid.

Studies show that even 2 ppm (or 2 mg/L) in drinking water can damage kids’ kidneys and livers (source).  Thus, if you have cancer of the thyroid, kidneys or liver, consider removing, or at least reducing, fluoride in your drinking water, which may relieve the extra stress on your kidneys and liver that fluoride can pose.

If you prefer fluoride for your teeth, consider 2 things.  Even if you remove fluoride from the water you drink, chances are that you can still get fluoride from other sources such as tea and processed food made with fluoridated water.

The second thing to consider is that 97% of Western Europe drinks non-fluoridated water (source).

If you decided to ban fluoride from your drinking water, know that not all water filtration systems remove fluoride.  Thus, to get the best water filter system for you, you need to make sure that there are a water filter media that works for fluoride.

Conclusion and recommendations on choosing the best water filter system for you

In conclusion, you need to do some research to figure out whether a popular water filter system is the best water filter system for YOUR drinking water and thus your water filtration needs.  To get help with this, please contact me for a consultation.

For testing my drinking water, I used this service with good results.

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15 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Water Filter System”

  1. Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with us. We’ve been using Clearly Filtered for a few years now. We use both the water pitcher and shower head filters. A whole home filter is definitely on my list of future investments. Have you heard of Clearly Filteted? If yes, would you recommend their products?

    1. Hi, Chelsea: Their website does not have information to arrive at a conclusion. I would need to give them a call to learn what type of filter media they use and what chemistry of water they used for their testing. I would definitely be happy to consult with you on this. As I said in the post, one size does not fit all. One thing I can say though, I do not like that the water pitcher is plastic. Looking at the picture, I assume it is plastic. I wonder what type… Thank you for your question, Chelsea. ~Irina

      1. Hi Irina, Clearly Filtered updated their pitchers last year to be made of Tritan, which I understand to be fairly safe (even though it’s still plastic) and non-leaching? I’m not sure if this applies to the interior plastic reservoir that initially holds the water as it’s filtering down, or just the pitcher itself.

        1. Thank you, Chelsea. I think the more important question here is that what water contaminants you need to remove or reduce and whether the Clearly Filtered pitcher deals with those contaminants. ~Irina

      2. What are your thoughts on Berkey water purifiers?
        it’s the system Chris Wark uses and reviews are very positive.

        Thank you

        1. Hi, Karen:

          I like Chris Wark’s work. It depends. Some people do not like a water filter sitting on the countertop. The best way to find out is to test the input and output water to see how the water filter performs on your water. Are you considering to buy Berkey or do you own it already? ~Irina

    1. Hi, Sylvia, what specifically are you asking about? Ion exchange can be used as a water softening standalone system or as a filtration medium in drinking water filter systems. Ion exchange is a water treatment method where undesirable contaminants are removed from water by another substance, usually sodium. The drinking water is exposed to a resin that usually contains electrically-charged sodium ions. As these ions escape the resin and enter the water, contaminants in the water are replaced with sodium. This process produces a salty brine. Ion exchange systems are used not only for water purification but also for water softening. Water softening is used for hard water, which means that it has a high content of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals.

      Does this help? ~Irina

  2. I have been using the Big Berkey system and going to also buy their shower filter. The only downside is when I travel for extended periods, their Flouride filter can only be stored in the refrigerator so it does not dry out inside for 14 days. I could ask someone to pour water thru it once a week but hate to do that. But these filters are affordable for filtering Flouride and Arsenic.

  3. We distill our drinking water. From the research I have done, this is the superior method for extracting contaminates. It’s a stainless steeler distiller with glass pitcher. What are your thoughts about distilled water?

    1. Hi, Stephanie: I believe distillers will remove minerals and volatile organic compounds, but some pesticides & herbicides are not properly
      removed in distillation systems unless there’s an activated carbon pre or post filter. Also, there is a controversy about demineralization. Have you looked into that? ~Irina

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