Last Updated on July 12, 2022
If you don’t already have a high-quality water filter, I suspect you’ll want one after reading this post. If you’re using bottled water or a run-of-the-mill pitcher filter, you’re probably drinking more contaminants than you realize. Here’s why.Water seems like the picture-perfect image of health, right? Well, like a lot of invisible threats to our health, those in water are plentiful — and scary.
I know, I don’t want to think about it either, but since this is one thing with a pretty easy fix, better to know what you’re dealing with and just go for it. I’m really glad I did.
Water Filter 101: What’s in Your Water?
From arsenic to pharmaceutical residues, there are an alarming number of compounds in your water you’re better off not consuming if you want to lessen rather than increase your toxic load next time you take a drink.
Check the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database, which is searchable by zip code. Your municipality is only required to test for a handful of contaminants, so in all likelihood your annual water quality report (you’ve read that, right?) only shows a fraction of possible contaminants.
With thousands of industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals in use — and washed down our drains every day — you can pretty much assume there’s something in your water you’d rather not be drinking, whether that’s atrazine (a common pesticide linked to hormone disruption, cancer and other unpleasant health effects), benzene (a petroleum-base chemical linked to cancer and organ toxicity) or heavy metals like lead, found in a third of American water supplies!
You can see the complete — and overwhelming — list of known contaminants here. Click on any compound to find out how many US residents have it in their water and what the health effects of consuming it are.
Chromium-6, the carcinogen that Erin Brockovich famously fought against, is in 75% of all US tap water. That means each of us has a 3 in 4 chance of having it in ours! You can check chromium-6 contamination in your area using this map.
A recent study found plastic fibers in 94% of American water supplies!
How do all these chemicals wind up in public water supplies? They’re flushed down drains from factories and homes, and washed off roadways and farmland. And they’re simply too numerous for our public water systems to keep up with.
The EPA recognizes this and sets limits on only about a third of known contaminants, many of which are not on their “enforceable” list. Plus, there are few regulations about the use and disposal of many of these chemicals, so there’s no impetus to do anything about it.
What to do?
How to Choose a *Quality* Water Filter
OK, now you’re justifiably freaked out about what you might be drinking and cooking with. You don’t want to be serving your family traces of pesticides and prescription drugs with the healthy dinner you cooked! The good news is that an effective water filter is in reach for all of us.
The bad news: it’s not that pitcher filter in your fridge right now. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do a ton of research. With some new high-quality choices, picking an effective filter is really easy.
For many years I had a faucet-mount filter by PUR that I chose because it listed a large number of contaminants that it removed, far more than its competitor, Brita, or any common pitcher filter. But it was always in our way when we did dishes (which feels like ALL the time, right?), and when we replaced our kitchen faucet, it had nowhere to go.
Left without a water filter, I began researching madly, as I knew I was giving my family water filled with contaminants until we got a replacement. That’s when I found Carol Trimmer at Pure Living Space, a wonderful one-stop shop for everything (well, almost*) you need for a healthy home. You’ll find a discount code for HealthyGreenSavvy readers at the end of the post.
(*Pure Living Space doesn’t carry building supplies like paint or caulk 🙂
Carol has spent even more hours than I have researching the best products for the healthiest homes, everything from pillows to cleaners. She patiently helped me through the process of weighing my options with water filters.
Finding the Right Water Filter: Weighing Your Options
In addition to removing as wide an array of contaminants as I could, I wanted a water filter that took out fluoride, which research suggests may be more harmful to ingest than previously believed. That left me with only a couple options, Carol told me: either a reverse osmosis filter or a gravity filter that would sit on our countertop.
This left me in a bind. We’re chronically short of counter space, so the countertop option wasn’t appealing. And reverse osmosis, besides being kind of pricey, wasted a good deal of water (3 gallons or so for every gallon of filtered water it produces), plus I’d read about some potential health concerns associated with drinking reverse osmosis water long-term.
So I did what any overly concerned, too-busy person would do in my situation: Nothing. I dithered, paralyzed trying to choose between two options I wasn’t satisfied with.
At last, I bit the bullet and gave up on filtering fluoride and got one of the undersink filters Carol recommended (not reverse osmosis). I breathed a sigh of relief I was no longer poisoning my family.
I wish I’d dithered a little longer. Just a couple months later I got a newsletter from Carol with this subject line: This Water Filter Changes Everything.
A Water Filter that Does It All
Indeed it does! Propur has developed an affordable water filter that takes out over 200 contaminants, even fluoride and plastic fibers! And like all the water filters Pure Living Space carries, it’s undergone rigorous 3rd-party testing.
The undercounter model takes up little space, and the filter lasts up to a year. If you prefer something that sits on the counter, there’s a countertop model as well.
And if you want something to help you with your preparedness efforts, you might check out Propur’s gravity-fed options, which will work even if your well or city water stops due to a power out. You can filter pond water into drinking water with these!
A small version called the Scout (55 oz.) is also good for travel or camping, or if you want cold water in your fridge. I decided to get one of those as well, so we could filter fluoride and also have an emergency water supply if we ever needed it.
Larger versions are also available, like the Traveler (1.75 gallons), the Nomad (2.1 gallons), or the Big (2.75 gallons). And unlike some other popular gravity filters, Propur’s filters comes with third-party verification of its filtration. (If you’re going to go make your own comparisons, be sure that any filter you choose is also certified by a third-party lab to meet NSF 42, NSF 53, and NSF P231 standards. And read the percenterages of each contaminant filtered, since they can vary quite a bit.)
Though the upfront cost of a quality water filter can seem high, they filter so much water, you pay only pennies per gallon for the purest water you can get. Your health is absolutely worth the investment!
2018 update: Though I’d only had my original water filter a year, when Pure Living Space had a 25% off sale, I decided it was time to upgrade. We now have the Propur undersink filter as well and love it. As an added bonus, water comes out of it much faster than the previous filter. We’re thrilled we’ve got a filter that removes so many contaminants, even fluoride.
*sigh of relief*
This is a digest version of why you want to filter your water and what the filtration choices are. If you want to dive deeper (pun intended), check out Carol’s Beginner’s Guide to Water Filters. You’ll see she knows her stuff. (This is NOT a sponsored post, BTW — Pure Living Space did not pay me to say any of this,! I was just so impressed by what this company is doing, I asked if I could be an affiliate.)
PureLivingSpace is offering HealthyGreenSavvy readers 10% off their purchase with the code ‘Savvy.’
Go check out the water filters, and while you’re there browse some of the other green and healthy products she has in her store. Your body will thank you!
Related: Should You Filter Your Shower Water?
Do you know if you have an effective water filter?
–> If you’re concerned about avoiding toxic chemicals, be sure to learn about the best organic mattresses and avoid exposing yourself to the numerous toxins in conventional mattresses while you sleep!
Pin to save this info on how to choose a water filter for later!
Disclaimer: I’m a health enthusiast, not a medical professional. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide personalized medical advice. I draw on numerous health sources, some of which are linked above. Please consult them for more information and a licensed professional for personalized recommendations.
Choosing an effective water filter photo credits: flotty, Silentpilot, kaboompics
Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.
Max Jones says
I had no idea that there was so much lead found in american water supplies. We’ve been looking into some water lead removal filters because we live in an area that doesn’t have the best quality water. If we could get rid of all of our water contaminants and make our water taste better as well, I would love the change! Thanks for the help!
Burt Silver says
It’s interesting to hear your story and journey in finding a good water filter. It is crazy how much plastic fibers are actually in a lot of the water that we consume on a daily basis. The water in our house is pretty absurdly terrible so my wife and I have been really wanting a water filtration system. It would be good to see what our options are and get one installed as soon as possible!
Alexandria Martinez says
A good friend of mine was looking into getting water filters for her home. She wants to learn more about the sizing and how much they might be to get them. I’m sure that she would appreciate knowing that there are larger versions to choose from.
Derek Dewitt says
I had no idea that things like lead and benzene were found in tap water. I might need to invest in a water filter for my new home in this case. I don’t want to risk my family getting sick from the tap water here, so I’ll be sure to research this a bit more.
Armand D. Peters says
Hey Susannah, thanks for sharing this article. I want to buy a water filter for my house. Your suggestion will help me to choose the best one. Keep posting like this. 🙂