You may think that one water filter is as good as another, but think again. The filter you buy on impulse may not be keeping your family safe.
Water Filter Beverage companies have made a fortune on marketing bottled water on the premise that it's "pure," from "pristine, natural sources," and thereby safer than tap water. Bottled water marketing campaigns have been so successful in making people suspicious of their tap water, that sales skyrocketed 700 percent between 1997 and 2005. Skyrocketing as well—the environmental degradation, landfill waste, and human rights abuses associated with bottled water. Plus, studies have shown that it's no safer than tap water.
There's a much better option for ensuring that the water you and your family drink is as safe as it can be: a Refrigerator Water Filter. Putting a water filter in your home is less expensive and far less environmentally damaging than bottled water. And if you choose the right filter, you can minimize or eliminate the contaminants of highest concern in your area. Here's what you need to know.
Step One: Assess Your Tap Water
There isn't a one-type-fits-all kind of water filter: not every filter type will eliminate every contaminant. You'll save money and ensure that you're targeting the contaminants of concern in your area by doing a little research up front.
To start, check your water utility's "Consumer Confidence Report," which it must mail to you each year before July 1 by law. The report details where your drinking water comes from, what contaminants have been found in it, and how contaminant levels compare to national standards. You can also call your utility and ask for a copy, or visit www.purebetterlife.com to see if it's online.
If your water comes from a private well, it's not regulated at all by the EPA, so you should have your water tested annually in late spring (when pesticide runoff will be at its worst), and anytime you notice a change in your water.
Step Two: Find the Best Type
cheap refrigerator water filters come in a dizzying variety, from plastic pitcher filters and built-in refrigerator filters, to faucet and under-the-sink filters, to whole-house models that combine a variety of media types and treat all of the water in your house. What type you want depends on your needs.
Here's a brief overview of the different filter types:
• Adsorption: These filters run water past an adsorbent medium—like carbon, charcoal, KDF (a copper-zinc formulation), and ceramic—to which liquids, gases, and dissolved or suspended matter will adhere. These are best at removing organic contaminants and chlorine, and they may also make your water taste better. They won't remove nitrates, some heavy metals, and fluoride, and they can become bacteria havens if you don't change your filter cartridge regularly. Types: Whole-house and point-of-use kitchen-sink, shower, and faucet filters, as well as pitcher filters like Brita and built-in refrigerator filters.
• Distillers: These systems heat water to the boiling point and then collect the water vapor as it condenses, leaving many of the contaminants behind, particularly the heavy metals. Some contaminants that convert readily into gases, such as volatile organic chemicals, may be carried over with the water vapor, so some distillation systems also use carbon filters to remove some of those contaminants. These are best at removing inorganic contaminants, like heavy metals, nitrates, and hardness (i.e. calcium and magnesium). They can remove some bacteria. Some consumers complain that the water tastes "flat" after distillation. These best refrigerator water filter won't remove chloramines. Types: Point-of-use sink filters.
• Filter membranes: These consist of a membrane or series of membranes that trap particles above a certain size and allow everything else to pass through. The filtration openings are generally larger than reverse-osmosis membranes, and they can be used in conjunction with other filter types, such as UV. A "1 micron" filter will remove particulates and most bacteria, cryptosporidia, and viruses. Types: Point-of-use and whole-house filters.
• Reverse osmosis filters use normal household water pressure to force water through a semi permeable membrane, which separates contaminants from the water. These are best for removing bacteria. However, for every three gallons you run through the filter, you'll only get one gallon of water. You can redirect the waste water to a graywater system. Types: Point-of use kitchen sink filters.
• Ultraviolet treatment filters use ultraviolet light to disinfect water or reduce bacteria. They're great for removing bacteria and viruses, but they won't remove chemical pollutants. Types:water filters household , and point-of-use sink filters.
If, after examining your Consumer Confidence Report (or, preferably, your current and several past reports), you find that your water regularly tests better than EPA levels, you may just want a filter that can remove the chemicals your local utility uses to treat the water.
These chemicals may or may not show up on your report. Call and ask your utility if it uses chlorine, a suspected respiratory and neurological toxin, or chloramine, a suspected blood and respiratory toxin. Chlorine combines with organic elements during the water treatment process to produce carcinogenic by-products.
If you only have one or two contaminants, a smaller unit, such as a countertop or under-the-sink filter, may meet your needs. To find a filter certified to remove the contaminants you're most concerned about, visit the NSF's online database.
Step Three: Look at the Labels
Some experts recommend looking for a Water Filter Pitcher certified by NSF International, a nonprofit organization that conducts safety testing for the food and water industries. NSF tests and certifies water filters to ensure that they both meet NSF safety standards and are effective at removing contaminants as claimed by the manufacturer. Underwriters Laboratories and the Water Quality Association also offer similar certification, based on NSF standards.
NSF has different certifications, so when you read the label, first make sure it says the filter will remove the contaminants you're most concerned about. A filter certified by NSF to remove chlorine isn't going to be helpful if you need it to remove nitrates. Then, look for the NSF seal, Underwriters Laboratories' "UL Water Quality" mark, or the Water Quality Association Gold Seal for added assurance that your filter will actually do what the box claims.
Better Water for the Future
Filters aren't perfect—they can be expensive and energy intensive, and the Faucet Filter best cartridges are nearly impossible to recycle. But when you compare throwing away a couple cartridges to the billions of water bottles we toss each year, filters are a preferable option. When it comes to ensuring better water for the future, here are the most important steps:
First, we need to stop drinking bottled water. It's not any safer than tap, and it wastes a mind-boggling number of resources .
Then, we need to ask companies to take back and recycle their cartridges. Besides using up resources, filter cartridges trap and hold contaminants. If the cartridges are not disposed of in a sealed landfill, those contaminants could end up right back in the environment.
Finally, public utilities will be using treatment chemicals well into the future, and our systems may never be perfect. Take responsibility for your family's health by carefully considering whether you need to take additional steps to make your fridge filter the healthiest it can be. http://purebetterlife.livejournal.com/1446.html