As water purity issues grow, water filters appear to be improving

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But different filters will address different problems

Water purity is a growing global problem and some areas of the U.S. have not been spared. An extreme example is Flint, Mich., where lead contamination shut down the city’s water supply in 2015.

Concern about purity and taste has led to increased bottled water sales in recent years, as well as all types of water filtration systems used in homes. Some are simple, like Brita water pitchers. Some are more elaborate, such as under-the-sink reverse osmosis systems.

In a recent report on home water filtration systems, the New York Times concludes that these systems have generally improved over the years, but some are better at some tasks than others.

Activated carbon

The Times report found that most filters use activated carbon as a primary feature. This material can capture contaminants and is found in refrigerator systems as well as pitchers and whole house systems.

Kenny, of Dallas, reports installing a RainSoft system in his home that not only improved the taste but also removed visible signs of sediment.

“Ever since we started using RainSoft, the water in our showerheads doesn't get crusty or clogged up,” Kenny wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “So we don't even have to clean it as often as we used to it and it’s a big thing. Whenever you drink the water, you don't get the harsh taste and mostly, it's pretty clear. The best thing is, you don't have to spend money on water bottles.”

Experts interviewed by the Times say consumers who are considering a water filter should pick one that meets their particular needs. If it is effective at filtering polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances it could be a good choice. Federal regulators have signaled plans to lower allowable levels of PFAS in drinking water.

Many municipal systems fall short

Detlef Knappe, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University, told the Times that most municipal water treatment plants fall short when it comes to screening out PFAS, as well as pharmaceutical drugs that increasingly are showing up in water supplies.

Selecting a filter that can reduce those contaminants might be a worthwhile investment since PFAS have been linked to cancer and other health issues.

“Home filters appear to work decently well for PFAS and can now be NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for some of those chemicals, too,” the Times concluded.

Before purchasing a water filter it’s probably smart to have your water tested, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. A state-certified lab will provide the most accurate results.

You can find verified ConsumerAffairs reviews of nearly two dozen filter manufacturers here.

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