Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our Water Filtration System Buying Guide and How To Know If you Need One

Many families take for granted access to safe water.   Many, expect it to be relatively safe for drinking or, even if they choose to drink bottled water,  at least for bathing, cooking and teeth brushing.

Unfortunately a new study published by the National Resource Defense Council  on nationwide water violations, shows that the water quality of many families in the US is dangerously bad.  The government (both state and federal) is failing miserable at enforcing The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and is failing miserably at updating our deteriorating public water systems.  The results? It is also failing to provide its citizens with clean drinking water.

We all know about Flint, Michigan, but to the surprise of many, the residents of Flint are not the only ones drinking polluted water every single day (although, theirs is an extreme tragedy).

According to the NDRC among the worse offenders in the nation are: 

  1. Texas 
  2. Florida
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. New Jersey
  5. Georgia

People in these states need seriously rethink drinking/cooking with/ brushing with and even bathing kids in water from their faucet- but they are not alone, since violations were reported in every single state.  When ranking by percentage of total population served, Puerto Rico had the highest percentage of any state or territory, with  99.5 % of puertorricans served by community water systems in violation.  Rural communities also faired poorly as did Ohio, Maryland and Kentucky.

How bad are the violations?

Basically, millions of people in these states are exposed, daily, to high levels of very toxic chemicals through their water supply. Specifically (as described in the report):
  1. Disinfection byproducts: Exposure can lead to cancer and potentially to reproductive impacts such as miscarriages and birth defects. 
  2. Coliform bacteria: Coliforms indicate that disinfection may not be working and that disease-causing organisms may be present. These organisms can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and headaches and pose potentially more serious health threats for children, the elderly, and immunecompromised people.
  3. Surface water and groundwater quality (i.e. pathogens) Some of the pathogens covered, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia, can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, nausea, and diarrhea. In the very young, the elderly, and immune-compromised people, they can cause serious, life-threatening infections.
  4. Nitrates and nitrites: Exposure can lead to blue baby syndrome in infants, developmental defects, and in extreme cases infant death. Long-term exposure above the MCL can lead to impaired thyroid function and damaged cardiovascular health. These chemicals may also cause cancer.
  5. Lead and copper:  Lead exposure is particularly toxic to children and can cause serious, irreversible damage to developing brains and other parts of the nervous system. Exposure can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, fertility issues, cardiovascular and kidney impacts, cognitive dysfunction, and elevated blood pressure in healthy adults. 

These chemicals are problematic for all, but pregnant women, young infants and children are especially vulnerable.   These last are also more likely to ingest unfiltered, polluted, water during bathtime, teeth brushing and outdoor water play.   
According to the EPA, babies can get between 40% and 60% of their exposure to lead by drinking formula mixed with contaminated water.

 Officially, the EPA recommends that if you are pregnant you should move forward with testing you home water supply, especially for lead and nitrates.

What you can do if you are worried about your water quality.

 1. Water companies are required by law to provide their customers with an annual water quality report (called the Consumer Confidence Report); it should be sent to you or be available online.  If it is not,  call them and demand for it to be sent to you. But, keep in mind that the water report will refer to the water leaving the water plant…  before it goes through your home’s plumbing.  If you have, for example, old lead plumbing in your home the lead will not appear in the annual report.  If you suspect or know you do you should test your own water.

2. Test it!  
  1. Find a state certified laboratory. You can find one calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visiting
  2. Test it yourself.    You can buy test kits online, however truth be told, while significantly less expensive,  they are never as accurate as a professional laboratory.  
The  tests for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and pH. 

3. Buy a filter.  
  • Before buying a filter it is a good idea to test your water to make sure you know what is in it that you want to remove.  
  • If you use a filter to remove lead, be sure you get one that is certified to remove lead by NSF International.   Some water filters use the NSF logo without authorization.   Go to their website ( ) to search for those that are truly certified.
Types of Filters

There are two types of water filteration systems; whole house/ Point of Entry water filters (that will filter the water in the entire house including kitchen, bathrooms, refrigerators etc) and Point of Use systems (ie filters a specific area, like the kitchen sink. Reverse osmosis: These are the most expensive but also the only system that are NSF certified to reduce fluoride and nitrate as well as lead and copper).  

Our Picks: NSA Certified Water Filtration Systems
For the most part, we like to rely on NSA certified water filtration system because it is an internationally renown entity that we can trust to make sure that the filters do what they promise to do.  With the exception of one, the Berkley listed below, all filters listed here have confirmed, class A, NSA certifications (they are certified to 

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