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.
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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.
(*Pure Living Space doesn’t carry building supplies like paint or caulk 🙂 Grab my guide to a healthy home for 8 more ways to keep toxins out of your house by filling in the form below.)
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.
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.)
Holiday sale! Use discount code ‘Savvy25’ to save 25% off filters through 12/31.
PureLivingSpace is offering HealthyGreenSavvy readers 10% off their purchase with the code ‘Savvy.’
Related: Should You Filter Your Shower Water?
Do you know what’s in your water? Does it concern you? Share in the comments!
This post is one in a series of Savvy Health Hacks, easy ways to ensure your body has what it needs to function optimally. Ready to hack your health? Check out these other practical tips to help you fight colds, sleep better, ward off disease, and have more energy:
- How to Eat For Better Sleep
- Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
- Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
- Immune Boosting Foods
- Health Benefits of Potassium
- Easy Health Hack: Sit Less
- Anti Inflammatory Food
- Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Are You D-ficient?
- Easy Ways to Reduce Cortisol
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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.
Photo credits: flotty, Silentpilot, kaboompics