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Do You Need a Water Filtration Home System?

If you are asking yourself, should I be filtering my home water source? The answer is yes. Filtering the water coming into your home is important if your water is contaminated or if you are concerned about exposure to certain types of contaminants. If you are considering installing a water filtration home system, you’ll want to start by understanding what contaminants are in your water and what types of filtration systems are available. Once you have the basics understood, you can focus on how to get great tasting, filtered drinking water into your home

Do I Need a Water Filtration System?

If you are scratching your head and wondering if you should invest in water treatment systems, that is the first step towards having healthier drinking water. However, only you can answer whether you need an in-house water filtration system, but there are some very good reasons why you might consider ditching your regular faucet water and install one. The importance of water purification cannot be understated if you are concerned about exposure to potentially harmful contaminants. Although the water provided by community water systems has undergone some form of treatment, violations of water quality standards occur every day.

To illustrate this point, a 2015 study of nearly 18,000 community water systems from the period between 1982 – 2015 found that between 9 – 45 million people were affected by violations of drinking water standards. If you are concerned about bacteria, chemicals, and other contaminants while asking yourself, “should I filter my tap water?” The answer is that filtering your tap water provides the greatest assurance that the water in your house is clean and free of contaminants.

For you to be completely sure that a house water filter is the right thing for you to invest in, its best to understand what substances are in the water from your plumbing. 

What Types of Contaminants can be Found in Tap Water?

There is a wide range of contaminants that can be found in tap water. Here are some of the most common and problematic:

  • Disinfectant By-Products (DBPs) – Most community water suppliers treat their water with chemicals to kill waterborne pathogens. The most common chemicals used are chlorine and bromine. When added to water, these chemicals react with organic material in the water to form DBPs. DBPs like chloroform are considered possibly carcinogenic.
  • Microbes – The water that is piped into your house may contain waterborne pathogens. Although most water suppliers treat their water with chemicals to kill microbes, over 16 million people in the United States each year suffer from acute gastroenteritis from waterborne pathogens. These include bacteria like E. Coli, Salmonella, and Legionella, viruses like rotavirus and Norwalk virus, and protozoans like Giardia.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – VOCs are chemicals that are used in a variety of products like gasoline, solvents, paints, and pesticides. According to the EPA, VOCs are present in about 1/5th of water supplies in the United States. Exposure to high concentrations of VOCs has been linked to increased risk of cancers, liver problems, and damage to reproductive systems.
  • Heavy Metals – Heavy metals like lead and zinc can make their way into the water supply. Lead is often leached from the pipes bringing water to your house, while other metals like zinc can be picked up by water as it moves through the soil. These metals contribute to water hardness and can be detrimental to your health.
  • Arsenic – Arsenic is a naturally occurring compound that is most often found in water coming from a private well.  Arsenic doesn’t produce a specific smell or taste in water, so you would have to test your water to know if it is contaminated with arsenic. Long-term exposure to arsenic can result in an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers.
  • Nitrates – Nitrates enter the water supply through runoff from fertilizers, sewage, and livestock manure. This makes water supplies close to agricultural centers particularly vulnerable to nitrate contamination.

What Type of Filtration System Should I Get?

Finding the right filtration system can make a big difference in which contaminants get removed. Different filtration methods remove different contaminants. Although many water filtration systems will combine multiple filtration methods, it is important to start with getting your water professionally tested.

Starting with a professional water test will tell you exactly what contaminants are in your water. From there, you can more accurately narrow down which filtration methods are appropriate for the water in your house.

Here are the three most common types of filtration methods and what types of contaminants they are effective at removing:

  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) – Reverse osmosis involves forcing contaminated water at high pressure through a membrane containing very small pores. The osmosis filter’s membrane captures contaminants while the water molecules can pass through to the other side. Reverse osmosis systems are great at capturing sediment, silt, heavy metals, nitrates, and microbes. They are less effective at removing disinfection chemicals, DBPs, and VOCs.
  • Activated Carbon – Activated carbon filters contain porous charcoal that captures certain molecules that pass through it. Activated carbon filters are excellent at removing chemicals used to treat water, such as chlorine and bromine, DBPs, VOCs, and fluorine. These filters are also great for removing the bad odors and tastes in tap water.
  • Ion Exchange – Ion exchange systems contain a negatively charged resin that is used to attract the minerals and metals that contribute to water hardness. These systems are excellent at removing hardness from water and are typically installed as a point-of-entry (POE) system where the water enters your home. This ensures that all of the water in your house is soft. Ion exchange systems are not effective at removing microbes, chemicals, DBPs, VOCs, and nitrates.

Closing Thoughts

There are many benefits to home water filtration systems. That is why there is no single best water filter at home, but rather there are water filtration systems that are more appropriate for the type of contaminants found in your water. That is why it’s important to conduct a professional water test before investing in a water filtration system for your home. 

Everyone deserves to have great tasting, filtered water. What is great about all these water purification systems is that you can combine multiple filtration methods, so that they can capture the most contaminants. Each filtration method has advantages and disadvantages, so systems that combine filtration methods typically minimize the disadvantages of specific filtration methods. Thus, optimizing your chances of providing healthy, purified water for your home. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/12/climate/drinking-water-safety.html
  2. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/9/2078
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html
  4. https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3043/pdf/fs2006-3043.pdf