Everybody is getting water filters these days, but do we really need them or is it just another thing on which we needlessly spend our money?
It seems everybody has some kind of filter on their water these days, whether it is on your actual system or on the tabletop after it comes out of the tap. But, do you really need to take that extra step? Or are you wasting your money each time to change that filter?
According to the Environmental Working Group, “No matter where you live, the tap water is sure to contain some chemicals you don’t want to drink.” Their review of quality tests of water utilities serving 100 million Americans indicated that all—not some but all—contained trihalomethanes, which the EWG indicated are linked to bladder cancer. These trihalomethanes form, the EWG explains, when chlorine is added to the water as a disinfecting agent. The chlorine reacts with rotting organic matter in the water (dead leaves, insects, farm run-off and sewage, the EWG lists). The best way to get rid of trihalomethanes and other unwanteds in your water, the EWG says, is to get a water filter.
The EWG has listed a group of 137 of the most affordable and effective water filters for consumers. However, they suggest that you find out just what you need to filter before choosing a filter, as not all filters remove the same contaminants. All water utilities are required to publish a report annually, the EWG indicates; this report is called the Consumer Confidence Report, Water Quality Report, or Drinking Water Quality, and must be provided to all customers by July 1. While you should have gotten one in the mail, it is possible the most recent one has been thrown out or misplaced by now! Request one, or check your utility’s website to see if the report is available online.
If you do not get your water from a city utility, but have a well or a spring source, you can have your water tested for contaminants. Contact your local health department or county extension agency to find out more.
Is bottled water the best option? The EWG says no; in fact, they indicate that it can be just as bad, even worse, than your tap water! So, they suggest going with a filter. According to the EWG, these are some good tips to get you started, although they suggest getting more detailed information on their website:
- If you are on a tight budget, filters using activated carbon are your best bet. They remove lead, chlorine and trihalomethanes and many other contaminants at a modest price.
- If your water is highly polluted and you can afford a more expensive, more comprehensive filtration system, you may want to consider reverse osmosis combined with activated carbon. If you make sure you get one with a superior activated carbon pre-filter, this technology can filter out everything that activated carbon catches and reduces other contaminants, including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate. Reverse osmosis filters are typically installed under the sink and integrated into your plumbing.
- For ease of use and affordability, pitcher filters are a good pick. But if constant refilling bothers you, try a faucet-mounted filter. The best filters tend to be those that sit on your countertop or under the sink, so if you can modify your plumbing and can afford a higher priced filter, these may be your best bet.
Again, visit the EWG website for more information on choosing the right filter for you.
Huliq Reader Question: Do you use a water filter? Why or why not?
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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