If you’re living in an area where tap water isn’t safe for drinking, your options would be to spend a fortune on bottled water or to invest in a water filter. But, is filtered water safe when the water supply is already questionable?
We’re all under the impression that one of the best methods to obtain safe drinking water is through filtration.
While in some ways, filtration does get rid of many contaminants, it may not be able to capture everything that can make the water unsafe for drinking. Some contaminants are a bit too stubborn; thus you’ll require other forms of water purification to get rid of them.
However, it is also possible that your water supply doesn’t have these contaminants and water filtration is sufficient to produce clean drinking water. The problem is, how would you know?
To help you understand a bit more about water filtration, its uses, and benefits, below is a brief description of what it is.
As the name implies, water filtration is the process of filtering contaminants out of the water by using certain elements or combination of elements as a filtration device. Water filtration is one of the earliest methods used to purify water. However, way back in the early days, around 2000 BC, the most common elements used to filter were sand and gravel.
Today, water filters are much more effective in removing a wide variety of contaminants. In some areas, filtration is sufficient to produce clean water.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the most common contaminants found in drinking water fall into one of four different categories:
Physical contaminants are those that you can see with your eyes, such as soil, sediment, and other organic and inorganic materials. Biological contaminants are those you can’t see, such as microbes, viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Radiological contaminants are elements found naturally in nature, such as Uranium, Plutonium, and Cesium. These elements produce or emit radiation. Lastly, chemical contaminants are elements such as chlorine, bleach, metals, and toxins.
Now that you’re aware that water filters do not remove all types of contaminants, you might be wondering what contaminants do they remove. Unfortunately, water filters are not created equally. As such, they don’t filter out the same types of contaminants.
The only way to know what contaminants a particular water filter is designed for is to check its NSF rating. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is a non-profit organization that helps consumers identify the safety risks of different products, especially those that are used for food and water consumption.
Unfortunately, understanding an NSF label on a water filter can be a bit difficult because they are made up of codes. Each code pertains to a certain contaminant or group contaminants. You will need to refer to the database available at the NSF website to understand what contaminant the code refers to.
However, most commercial grade water filters are excellent in removing a variety of contaminants from the water these contaminants include:
You may now be wondering of residential water filters can also remove those contaminants. Unfortunately, that depends on the type of home filtration you have or intend to purchase. There are several different water filtration systems available for residential use. These include:
If you’re using a water filter but you’re still asking is filtered water safe, then there’s a good possibility that you’re using one of those low-cost water filters. It’s important to understand that most of those types of water filters are only able to filter out physical contaminants, or those that you can see with your eyes.
Unfortunately, the contaminants that you really need to worry about are those that you can’t see. These include bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and radiological contaminants.
If you truly want drinking water that is safe, then you will need to upgrade your water filtration system into one of those described above.
However, you should also consider the area you’re living in and the water supply. If you’re living in an area with relatively safe water supply, meaning the water district already filters your tap water, then you may not need special water filtration systems. In fact, an active carbon water filter should be sufficient.
On the other hand, if you’re living in an area where the water supply is questionable, then if you want to have safe drinking water, it’s best that you consider one of the above filtration systems.
It’s only right that you should be concerned about the water filtration system to purchase because not only are they a significant investment, they’ll also require maintenance as well.
Nevertheless, if your water supply is highly questionable and you want to protect yourself against all forms of contaminants, or majority of the contaminants, then check the NSF labels and educate yourself about what contaminants a certain water filter can remove.
If you have sufficient funds, you may also consider purchasing different types of water filtration systems to have a higher chance of filtering most contaminants.
Whatever water filtration system you choose, keep in mind that the system will only filter the water you use at home. If you’re not at home, you’ll also need to be concerned about the water you purchase and drink. Most bottled water is safe enough for drinking, but you should still choose the types that are the safest.
Jack Wilson is a water treatment consultant as well as a topic researcher and post editor for all posts on bestpurifiation.com.