Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

updated 6/2018

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 every recent study published on the topic has shown that Americans are drinking known harmful chemicals in their everyday drinking water supply and that the government (both state and federal) is failing at enforcing The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and is failing at updating our deteriorating public water systems.

The National Resource Defense Council  published a study on nationwide water violations, and found that every single state's water supply had water violations. The worse offenders in the nation were: 

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

Last year, EWG also took a look at the nation's water supply and also found that millions of Americans are drinking water with unsafe amount of pollutants (they also found  that some  legally allowed amounts of contaminants could still pose a health risk).  

What is in our water?
- Over 81% of tested water systems contained contaminants linked to cancer
- 77% of the US is drinking Hexavalent Chromium (the infamous Erin Brockovich chemical) 
- 7 million Americans are drinking unsafe levels of nitrates (pesticide) 
- Other contaminants commonly found: 
  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. 

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

We should all be concerned about the water we are drinking - but special concern should be taken if you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or have a baby or young child in your home.  

Here is what you can do to determine if you need a water filtration system, which type would be the best fit for your needs, and which one I recently chose for my family after moving into our new home.

 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 filtration system.  
  • 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 filtration systems; 
1. whole house/ Point of Entry water filters
PROS:  These will filter the water in the entire house including kitchen, bathrooms, refrigerators. Considering we absorb a large amount of toxins during bath time and children, especially, tend to ingest water when brushing their teeth, the benefits of this system are clear.  
CONS: These can be costly.  VERY costly.  They also require a large space.

2.  Point of Use systems: These filter a specific area, like the kitchen sink. PROS:   provide real clean drinking water.  Much more affordable and compact.  CONS:   If you want to filter shower water or other sources of water you must buy individual units that work for different parts of the house.

Reverse osmosis:  PROS:   These whole house water filters eliminate pretty much everything (even beneficial minerals) 
CONS:   These are the most expensive, they use up a large amount of water waste and often have water storage that are usually lined in plastic (probably BPA free but possible still containing other bisphenols)  containers.

Our Pick

I recently looked into water filtration systems for our new home that we recently purchased and moved into.   I was tempted to purchase a whole house reverse osmosis system but then heard about Pure Effects - and after extensive research  (took into account cost, placement- our water supply is located in the front of our house which was a problem, and the fact that even with whole house water filters it is usually recommended to buy a specific drinking water filter too) decided to purchase their ULTRA-UC (Undercounter) under counter filter.

The reason? It removes everything reverse osmosis removes with the added benefits of not eliminating minerals and balancing the PH of the water.  It eliminates:
a. Fluoride / Arsenic / Bromide 
b. Chlorine 
c. Chloramine 
d. Drug Residues 
e. Hydrogen Sulfide 
f. Herbicides/Pesticides 
g. Volatile Organics (VOCs) 
h. Synthetic Organics (SOCs) 
i. Hormone/Endocrine Disruptors (EDCs)
j. Disinfection Byproducts**: THMs, HAA's, Chloroform & others 
k. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS)
II. RADIOISOTOPES: (Wide-Spectrum)
*Addresses the major radioisotopes from Fukushima Disaster.   
a. Cesium-137 /134 
b. Strontium-90 
c. Iodine-131 
d. Radium 
e. Radon 
f. Plutonium 
g. Tritium 
h. Rubidium-106 
i. Cobalt-60 
j. Uranium 
k. Other Alpha & Beta Emitters 

a. Iron
b. Mercury
c. Barium
d. Lead  
e. Aluminum 
f. Copper 
g. Cadmium 
h. Chromium 6 & other + charged metal ions.

a. Sediment (suspended particles) 
b. Silica
c. Microbial Cysts 
d. Parasites

a. Raises/Balances pH to Alkaline. 
b. Supports Natural Minerals.
c. Supports Natural Electrolytes.
d. Improves Redox (Antioxidant potential of water).
e. Discourages bacterial/fungal growth.
f. Works without electricity.
g. "Instant & Constant" Fresh Water Flow.
h. Saves Counter Space, Installs under counter.

I am also purchasing a Berkey Shower Filter with Massaging Shower Head - Reduces up to 95% of chlorine for the kid's showerhead.

Your needs, situation and budget might be different from mine, so here are other options you can look into that are, for the most part,  NSA certified water filtration systems (this 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.


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