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Last updated on March 14th, 2019
Buying 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Here is an examples of water filtration systems that I looked into extensively:
Propur ProOne (Do not hesitate to give Carol of Pure Living Space a call. She provides good customer service. With the discount code ReadLabels10, you will receive 10% on any purchases in their online store.)
Sweetwater: this is the only water filter company that I am aware of where the owner, Jim McMahon, answers the phone himself. He can help you choose the best water filter system based on your drinking water. If you tell Jim that Irina Webb of I Read Labels For You referred you, Jim will give you 5% off on your purchase. We recently bought a whole house water filter from him.
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