Mother Earth Living

Get Clear, Clean Water With Home Water Filtration Systems

Find the best home water-treatment system for your needs and budget.
By Alli Kingfisher and Kelly Lerner
September/October 2010
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

Naturopathic Health: Herbs for Fertility

Trouble getting pregnant? Consider these fertility-boosting herbs for both men and women.

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Just Too Much Stuff

Space and light are your home's most desirable ornaments. Here's how to clear the clutter so they ca...

Win a Solar Hot Water System!

Enter Natural Home’s Go Solar Giveaway to win a solar hot water heating system from Sunward.

Balanced and Blemish-Free with Elemental Herbology

Keep sebum production in check, purify complexion, calm irritation and provide hydration with natura...

Whether to improve water’s taste or address specific health concerns, about four in 10 Americans use home water-treatment systems, according to the Water Quality Association. Products vary widely—from $20 in-fridge pitchers to sophisticated whole-house filtration systems—so it’s important to research which, if any, system is right for you. Consider your local water quality; your area’s chemicals of concern; and of course the unit’s costs, maintenance, performance and certifications.

Major contamination sources in drinking water include naturally occurring bacteria and viruses, which cause disease; chemical contamination, usually nitrates, from fertilizers and pesticides, which can cause heart defects in babies; radon, which leads to increased cancer risk; lead, which causes developmental delays; and harmful disinfection byproducts. You can reduce the risks in everyone’s water by never putting toxic chemicals (such as paint, petrochemicals, chlorine or cleaning supplies) down your drain.

To select a filtration system, you need a clear picture of your home’s water quality. If you use the municipal supply, ask your supplier for the annual water quality report (sometimes called the consumer confidence report), which lists contaminant levels, maximum permitted contamination levels, disinfection chemical methods and byproduct concentrations. You can find some of these reports on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website or at the Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database. If you have a well, get your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Call your local health department, state water certification officer or go to the EPA website to find a list of certified labs.

Municipal water supplies are typically disinfected with chlorine, ozone, chloramines and/or chlorine dioxide, as well as ultraviolet light, which eliminate most waterborne diseases. When these chemical disinfectants react with organic matter or other compounds present in source water, they form byproducts. Health professionals have concerns about some of the byproducts common chemical disinfectants create: Trihalomethanes may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and increase cancer risk; haloacetic acids and bromate may increase cancer risk; and chlorite may cause anemia and affect infant and fetus nervous systems.

Your water’s contaminants (and their concentrations) will tell you what type of treatment you need and whether to install it at the point of use (to treat water at a single tap) or point of entry (to treat the whole house). Use a whole-house filter for contaminants such as radon and disinfection byproducts, which turn into gases easily and can be inhaled when showering or using steamy water.

Find the right filter for your water. 

Resources

Products

Aquatell
ultraviolet and reverse osmosis filters, softeners

Berkey
home and travel-ready untreated water filters

Brita
carbon/ion-exchange pitchers and faucet filters

Mavea
carbon/ion-exchange pitchers

Waterwise
distillation water purifiers

Watts Premier
reverse osmosis, ultraviolet, VOC filters, water softeners

Zuvo
ultraviolet faucet filter

Information

Environmental Protection Agency
EPA list of water-supply contaminants and related health risks

Environmental Working Group National Drinking Water Database
look up water quality by ZIP code

NSF International
information on disinfection byproducts

Alli Kingfisher, the state of Washington’s Green Building and Sustainability Specialist, is plotting to green her 1906 home in Spokane. Kelly Lerner, a Spokane-based architect specializing in healthy, super energy-efficient homes, is co-author, with Carol Venolia, of Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green Home. See her work at  One World Design Architecture and  Natural Remodeling .


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 


MY COMMUNITY






Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.