One of the most effective things you can do to reduce exposure to pollutants is ensure access to clean water. You can get clean water by finding a local spring near you or by employing effective water filters. Of course when we think water filters we think drinking water but it shouldn’t end there. What about filtering the bath we draw for our babies, or filtering water for our veggie gardens….what about when we are on the go and drink from a park bubbler? Today I’m talking about 5 effective water filters you can use on the go and around the house to ensure your family has access to clean water.
Why Should We Be Concerned?
Well, when most Americans drink a glass of tap water, they’re also getting a dose of industrial or agricultural contaminants linked to cancer, brain and nervous system damage, developmental defects, fertility problems or hormone disruption (source).
To add a little color, the EWG collected data from state agencies and the EPA for drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in 50 states. All told, the utilities were tested for 500 different contaminants and found 267. Contaminants detected included:
- 93 linked to an increased risk of cancer. More than 40,000 systems had detections of known or likely carcinogens exceeding established federal or state health guidelines – levels that pose only negligible health risks, but are not legally enforceable.
- 78 associated with brain and nervous system damage.
- 63 connected to developmental harm to children or fetuses.
- 38 that may cause fertility problems.
- 45 linked to hormonal disruption.
These contaminants come from several sources but most ironically include water treatment chemicals which also produce harmful contaminants.
What About Bottled Water?
Bottled water exploded in the 90s to the point where most of us couldn’t even imagine how to live without it. In 2011, eighty-five million bottles of water were consumed in the US every day. But believe it or not, most bottled water is nothing but glorified tap water. In addition to this bait and switch, here’s the physical and environmental impact:
- Plastic bottles are a waste problem adding to landfills and oceans when not recycled.
- Bottling plants have impacts on local groundwater aquifers and streams which can cause stress on ecosystems.
- Trading and transporting raises concern for pollution and carbon dioxide emission.
- The price of bottled water is 500-1000 times higher than tap.
- In several cases bottled water has tested to be worse than tap confirming higher levels of bacteria.
- BPA in plastic bottles is known to leach into water. This can cause ovarian, prostate and breast cancers.
- PET bottles are BPS-free but have the potential to interfere with estrogen just as BPA and phthalates do.
- Phthalates are another chemical compound used to make plastic flexible and these leach into water causing gastro disturbances, nausea, vertigo, damage to liver and potentially cancer.
Yeah But Sometimes I Need To Grab A Bottle of Water!
We all do. So here’s some tips on how to read and decode water bottle labels to help you buy the cleanest water. This is what these phrases on labels mean:
- P.W.S or “public water source” – means sourced from tap water.
- Purified water – means sourced from tap water.
- 100% Spring Water – look for this on the label. And know that real spring water is usually packaged in glass or paper (not plastic).
Filter Your Water!
So an easy and effective way to avoid all of the junk is to filter our tap. But all water filters are not created equal. Some filter out more, some filter out less and some are just plain ineffective. Here are 5 effective filters we use and love around the house.
As a family of four we have the Royal Berkey and it totally works for us. We fill it up at night and it generally lasts us throughout the day. Berkey is the queen bee of water filters by far removing the most junk from our tap. This is taken from their website:
The Royal Berkey Water Filter removes viruses, pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces rust, silt, sediment, foul taste and odors and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove red food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance.
Click here to see a full list of the contaminates the Berkey removes.
My husband had to fiddle with the assembly – our spicket was leaking but after taking tutelage from Youtube we got it up and running without too much trouble.
Use this water to drink, cook, water plants and make coffee + tea! Berkey also has a smaller travel size one for road trips, camping and longer stays away.
Also consider filtering your shower and bath water! Why?
When chlorine is used as a water treatment, it combines with organic matter to form compounds called trihalomethanes (THMs), also known as disinfectant byproducts. One of the most common THMs formed is chloroform, which is a known carcinogen. (source) Other THMs formed include the di- and trichloramines formed when chloramine is used as a disinfecting agent. (source) These compounds are toxic when consumed, inhaled, or applied to the skin. (source)
We like the Berkey Shower Filter, here’s why:
- Effective in both hot and cold water
- Reduces up to 95% of chlorine
- Reduces chemical absorption and vapor inhalation in the shower environment.
- Reduces the levels of hydrogen sulfide, iron, and iron oxide
- Reduces damage to hair and skin
The first time we installed a shower filter, I noticed the difference in my hair and skin right away – they were both softer and less dry. It was truly amazing to see the immediate difference. This is so important to me especially with a son who has eczema.
You can get the Berkey shower filter with a shower head attached or you can buy just the filter and attach it to your preferred shower head.
This is our newest project. My 5-year-old who as eczema will stay in the bath forever so it is important to me to do my best to ensure he is not breathing in or sitting in a tub full of chlorine.
There are several bath filters on the market but I haven’t seen one with great reviews and worse I’ve seen some that turn moldy or test the same for chlorine even after they’ve been used. The United State Department of Agriculture and Forest Service concludes; Vitamin C effectively neutralizes chlorine.
So I ordered this Vitamin C in the mail and I’m excited to give it a try. Per Wellness Mama, just a teaspoon of Vitamin C should be enough to neutralize a tub of water. Has anyone tried this? What did you think?
My friend Steph introduced me to this hose water filter just a couple of months ago. We currently live in an apartment but when we finally settle in and buy a house here in Atlanta, you best believe I’ll be boogieing over to the computer to order the Boogie-Blue.
Unfiltered city water contains…anything from chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and prescription drugs. It’s essential to use filtered water on your gardens to protect and maintain healthy microorganisms in your soil. Think of the soil being similar to your gut. Plants will thrive when the soil is biologically healthy. The instant we compromise it by adding chemicals and pollutants, the soil bacteria is altered in a negative way and is thrown out of balance. Not to mention filling our pools, running a sprinkler, making water balloons and more. More from Steph here as well as a recommendation for a nontoxic hose too.
This portable water filter pod fits in wide-mouth water bottles and has been a total game changer. It filters over 250 gallons of water from some of the most egregious contaminants. Each pod lasts up to 6 months and only takes 1 minute to filter. I keep these in my boy’s water bottles for fill ups at school or at the playground. I also love them for me when I travel: hotels, roadside fill ups, airports, conferences. A must-have!
Image by: Nynne Rosenvinge
Common questions about water filters
The best stand alone water filter is the Berkey water filter. It filters 99.9% of contaminants out of drinking water. Here are 4 more we recommend.
A portable water is a small pod that can be inserted into wide-mouth water bottles. It filters water in 2 minutes. Perfect for travel, on-the-go and school.
Unfiltered city water can contain chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, and prescription drugs. A filter for your hose can remove these.