If you keep anything out of your water, you’ll want it to be lead. It’s a heavy metal notorious for making its way into our drinking water by way of our own devices. Most homes and buildings were constructed using lead pipes. It wasn’t until 1986 that lead-free pipes were mandated for use in construction. Up until that point, lead pipes or soldering were used liberally.
Lead poisoning can cause several deleterious effects on the body such as brain damage, lower IQ, miscarriages, premature birth, irritability, fatigue, seizures, abdominal pain and weight loss. It’s especially harmful in children under seven, because their bodies are unable to block lead from crossing the blood-brain barrier. Fortunately, the EPA does require that cities monitor lead levels in drinking water to ensure that lead doesn’t exceed 15 parts per billion (ppb) in more than 10 percent of the homes they sample.
Is there lead in your home’s tap water?
Before you start your water filtration journey, you might want to check to see if your water is even contaminated. You can purchase a testing kit at your local home improvement store. Some states or cities may even provide a lead testing kit for free.
If you determine that your water is contaminated, it’s worth the effort to locate the source. Removing the lead source may be too expensive, timely, and burdensome for many people. Plus, lead levels could temporarily spike for a period of time following the replacement of pipes.
If you can’t or choose not to replace your home’s lead pipes, the CDC makes a couple of suggestions for water usage:
- Run your tap for one to two minutes before using the water, especially if it has been up to six hours before the water has flowed. You can capture the water to use in other places like the garden, the lawn or washing your car.
- When running the water be sure to use cold water only. Warm or hot water allows for more lead to be excreted from the pipes or soldering.
The Best Water Filters for Lead
You may or may not find the source, and whether you replace pipes or not, a water filtration system can only do you good. There are several different types of filtration methods:
- reverse osmosis
- activated carbon filtration
When you’re looking for a water filter you want to ensure it’s certified by NSF International, non-profit that sets the standard for the industry according to EPA rules and regulations.
Water filters range in price, maintenance, capacity and function. Almost all filters will require some degree of maintenance with regard to filter use and replacement. Fancier systems will require more expert knowledge to maintain.
You also need to know how much water you drink. A carafe pitcher will not work for a large family, for example, but it’s perfect for a household of two.
Different filters keep only certain contaminants out. In our case, we’re seeking filters for lead. Below are the best water filters based on four different categories.
1. Water Pitcher
(for the 1-2 person home)
Aquagear: This product is BPA-free, 100 percent recyclable, and the filter is made in the US. It removes:
- chromium 6
They also offer a lifetime guarantee and contribute to Thirst Relief International. For every water container they sell, they provide six months worth of clean drinking water to someone in need.
2. Faucet Filter
(for a larger family or the water guzzler on a budget)
Brita Tapwater Filter System: The Brita faucet filter requires no tools to install and attaches to any standard faucet. It removes 99 percent of lead as well as:
Green and red lights on the filter head notify you when it’s time to change the filter. One filter provides up to 100 gallons of filtered water through a BPA-free filter. It also has an easy on- and off-switch to choose between filtered and unfiltered water.
3. Countertop System
(for a small family or efficient individual with money to spend)
Big Berkey Water Filter: This system can hold up to 2.5 gallons of water and the black berkey elements can can filter 3,000 gallons of water each. The PF-2 elements filter up to 1,000 gallons each, removing:
- heavy metals
It’s made in the USA and comes warrantied.
4. Home System
(for a larger family or individual who likes the finer things in life)
Home Master: The Home Master offers a reverse osmosis solution that only requires filter changes once a year or every 2,000 gallons. It filters out 99 percent of:
- heavy metals
- dissolved solids
It uses seven stages of filtration while adding minerals—magnesium and calcium—back into the water. You can change the filters without using any tools. The product is made in the US. It’s boasted to reduce water waste by 80 percent and produces 50 percent more water compared to other notably wasteful reverse osmosis systems.
Homes aren’t the only places with lead in their tap water—schools are also dealing with lead contamination. Right now, there is no federal nationwide requirement for water testing in schools. Please sign and share the petition asking Education Secretary Betsy De Vos to institute a nationwide requirement for water testing in schools. Anything less is unconscionable.
If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
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