What do water filters remove? Do water filter pitchers remove the same contaminates as water filter straws? What is the difference between a water filter and a water purifier? These are some of the questions I wanted to know when I started looking into which water filter to add my emergency supplies. It was surprising to learn that the terms “water filter” and “water purifier” have a generic definition and many times these terms are used interchangeably. I believe the reason there is confusion about these terms is that there is no federal regulation regarding water filters. The generic standard for either a water filter or water purifier is to remove a contaminant to improve the quality of drinking water. That’s right, “a contaminant”, if they remove just one they qualify. When I first started gathering emergency supplies, I was under the impression that a water filter, and especially a water purifier, would make water contaminant free… I was sorely mistaken.
What do water filters remove?
So, to be clear, if we have a device that removes debris but leaves bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemicals, and metals it can be labeled a water filter and be sold to anyone willing to buy. “The EPA has defined pure water as water free from all types of bacteria and viruses”6, so it could have parasites but it would qualify as “pure water”. Knowing this has caused me to take a much closer look at a number of water filters and specifically what contaminants they remove. Here is what I found:
Water Filter Pitchers (Brita)
- “reduce chlorine taste and odor, zinc, even contaminants like copper, mercury and cadmium”1.
Water filter pitchers are designed to be used with treated city water after several contaminants have already been eliminated.
- removes bacteria (such as salmonella, cholera, and E.coli)2,3
- removes parasites (such as giardia and cryptosporidium)2,3
Water Purifiers – Hollow Fiber Membrane
- removes bacteria 2,4
- removes parasites 2,4
- removes viruses 2,4
Water Purifier – Solar (Puralytics SolarBag Water Purifier)
- kills bacteria 5
- kills parasites 5
- kills viruses 5
- chemicals are broken down to harmless minerals 5
- reduce metals 5
Contaminated drinking water is becoming more of an issue each year. The united states has two rivers listed on the “10 Most Polluted Rivers in the World“! Most of the population within the United States is completely dependent on our cities for safe drinking water. There are several states this month (Colorado, Ohio, West Virginia) that have a city dealing with containment water. Water filters and purifiers can help keep our families healthy. Double check your emergency supplies and do some research to see what contaminants your water filter removes.
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