Toxic lead water has made headlines because of the government-made disaster unfolding in Flint, Michigan, but the scandal also serves as a frightful reminder that many U.S. residents outside of that troubled city also face at least some risk of lead-contaminated water.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 percent to 20 percent of human exposure to lead likely comes from drinking contaminated water (ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust are the other main sources).
Lead often leaks into drinking water through old and decaying pipes, fixtures or solder. Corroded plumbing can be found in an older home’s pipes or those that connect the house to a main water pipe in the street. Such exposure can be dangerous. High levels of lead in the bloodstream can significantly affect mental and physical development in children.
The only way to find out if your water is contaminated is to have it tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your water has lead levels above 15 parts per billion, then the EPA says you must take action.
One way to immediately protect yourself and your family is to use certified filters that can remove lead from water. The solution is also being implemented in Flint, where so far it has been successful.
The water filters certified by NSF International, an organization that sets public health and safety standards, are only recommended if lead levels don’t exceed 150 parts per billion. However, some reports from Flint show that filters are working in houses that reported much higher levels.
The EPA still recommends that those most vulnerable to lead, such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children under 6, should drink only bottled water even after filters are installed. To keep filters in tip-top shape, they should be installed as instructed and replaced before they expire. Faucet aerators should also be cleaned regularly. Just unscrew the aerator at the top of the faucet and remove any debris it has collected.
NSF International has put out a lead filtration guide and a list of certified water filters that remove lead. The Fiscal Times cross-checked NSF International’s list of certified filters with water filters recommended by Consumer Reports to come up with the following list of best water filters for lead removal.
Countertop water filters
Amway eSpring 10-0188
Shaklee BestWater MTS2000 #82300
Undersink water filters
Multi-Pure MP750SB water filter
Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000 water filter
American Plumber WLCS-1000 water filter
Reverse osmosis water filters
Ecowater ERO-375 water filter
Culligan Aqua-Cleer water filter
Whirlpool WHER25 water filter
Kenmore Elite 38556 water filter
Kenmore 38156 water filter