When I first found out that our Brita water filter wasn’t removing nearly as many contaminants as I thought it was, I went down a deep rabbit hole to find the best water filter at an affordable price. Turns out, the research wasn’t nearly as straightforward as I was hoping it would be. So in this episode, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about tap water with some suggestions for the best filters…
Water Pitcher Filter:
Under the Sink Filter:
When I first found out that our Brita water filter wasn’t removing nearly as many contaminants as I thought it was, I went down a deep rabbit hole to find the best water filter at an affordable price. Turns out, the research wasn’t nearly as straightforward as I was hoping it would be. So in this episode, I’m going to share what I’ve learned about tap water with some suggestions for the best filters.
What is the health advice that we hear over and over and over again? “Drink plenty of water!” Water is quite literally the giver of life and is essential for proper organ function, cell function and detoxification, proper digestion, healthy skin and hair and the list goes on. But the focus primarily falls on the quantity of water we should be drinking — how often have we heard, “Make sure you’re drinking 5-8 glasses of water per day?”
And while yes, the daily quantity of water you’re drinking is important, it’s also important to consider the quality of that water. Because there’s so much more that comes out of the faucet than we even know.
A 2017 EWG investigation of drinking water data found more than 250 chemicals in U.S. public water systems. More than half of these chemicals are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and are not subject to any safety standards.
So when you drink a glass of water, you’re not just drinking hydrogen and oxygen. Because of the common water treatments used to clean water (and at times, their ineffectiveness), you’re also drinking: chlorine, heavy metals, fluoride, pharmaceuticals, disinfectant byproducts, arsenic, VOCs, pathogenic bacteria, inorganic materials and more.
In fact, in researching this episode, I went to the EWG’s website where you can search your specific town or city to find out how good or bad your water quality is. The results of the search for my city’s water source detected 18 total contaminants — 8 of which exceed EWG heaLth guidelines. The database was last updated in 2019 with the average data available from 2012-2017.
And while, yes, my city meets the legal requirements for clean drinking water, the EWG explains, “Legal does not necessarily equal safe. Getting a passing grade from the federal government does not mean the water meets the latest health guidelines.”
Because the thing is, legal limits for contaminants in tap water have not been updated in almost 20 years.
I’ll also just add, I live in a city where people love to say how great our public water system is. I grew up hearing that Boston has some of the best drinking water of any city in the country.
So, I went ahead and searched some other cities to gauge a comparison:
- New York City’s water has 16 total contaminants with 9 exceeding EWG’s health guidelines
- San Diego’s water has 26 total contaminants with 13 exceeding EWG’s health guidelines
- The water in Austin, Texas has 22 total contaminants with 10 exceeding health guidelines
- You can then compare these city numbers to a mountain town like Evergreen, Colorado where 8 total contaminants were found with 3 exceeding the health guidelines set by the EWG.
I’ll link to the EWG’s search database in the show notes so you can research your own city — just go to cleanlivingpodcast.com/water.
So, what should we do?
If you’re thinking you’re safe because you only drink bottled water, think again…
Bottled water isn’t safer or cleaner or purer than tap water and in some cases, is even worse.
Not only have leading bottled water brands like Aquafina and Dasani been caught in the past bottling tap water and selling it, it also uses plastic.
Storing liquid in plastic creates a health risk in itself. For one, most plastic is made with bisphenol-A (BPA and even BPS if it’s “BPA-Free” bottles) and phthalates, both of which are hormone disruptors. These materials have been linked to various health concerns including early onset of puberty in girls, infertility in men and women, and neurological problems.
That’s not to mention the massive amount of plastic water bottles that end up in landfills.
And if you’re thinking you’re in the clear because you use well water, the quality really depends on what’s around your water source — for example, if you live near a large dump site or a lot of animal agriculture. In the past, there have been elevated levels of chromium-6 (which may sound familiar from the Erin Brockovich movie) found in private well water sources.
Okay, so if bottled water isn’t an option and well water isn’t an option for most, what’s the solution?
A really good water filter.
I will preface this by saying, I have been on a long personal journey to find the right water filter for my family. My ideal scenario is to have a whole house filter that essentially filters all of the water running through your house (from your kitchen sink to your shower to your bathroom sink) but whole house reverse osmosis filtration systems waste a large amount of water AND since these systems also remove chlorine, it may introduce the additional risk of harmful bacterial growth in plumbing.
For most of us, the most realistic and cheapest solution is a carbon filter (if you have a Brita then you already have one in your home) but as I’m about to share, not all carbon filter systems are created equal.
According to the EWG, there are some activated carbon filters that are certified only to reduce chlorine and improve the taste of the water. Others can reduce the levels of contaminants such as asbestos, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. In most cases, activated carbon filters do not remove common inorganic pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, chromium and nitrate.
So in today’s “this for that” segment, I’m going to encourage you to research your current water filter and suggest switching to a better option if needed. I’ll link to my suggestions for the best water pitchers in the show notes at cleanlivingpodcast.com/water. The Brita isn’t on there only because there are other pitcher options that filter more than the Brita does. If you’re currently using a Brita, that’s okay — when it comes time to replace it then you can look into some other options.
We use the Aquagear water filter pitcher in our house and will most likely upgrade to an under sink water filter in the coming months. I’ll link to two of the under-the-sink filters I’m deciding between, if you’re also feeling ambitious. This will not only help to filter your drinking water but also the water you wash your dishes with.
Okay, so let’s end on a high note, even if it is a silver lining: On April 1, 2020, House leaders said they would make drinking water pollution a priority for the COVID stimulus bill. They proposed to spend more than 75 billion dollars on water infrastructure.
The bill will also establish a new Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance program to assist low-income households in paying their drinking water and wastewater utility bills during public health emergencies. And the bill will fund new, modern clean water and wastewater infrastructure by investing $40 billion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
Here’s hoping it happens.
Thanks so much for listening to this episode of The Clean Living Podcast — I’m your host Shannon Lohr. If you learned something today make sure to subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice, so you don’t miss an episode. Here’s to creating a cleaner, more sustainable world for all of us.