Wondering how to remove lead from tap water? Want to know what the best lead water filters are?
In this article we will explore where lead comes from, why it's a risk, how to test for lead and how to filter and remove lead from tap water.
Who is at risk of lead in tap water?
More than 15% of households in North America and 5% in Europe have lead exposure above recommended levels according to EPA and WHO*. The main reason is lead pipes and jointures in older buildings but it could also come from the municipal water delivery system as in the case of Flint, Michigan. A recent report also showed "shocking levels of toxic lead in Chicago tap water".
The problem is that we don't know where the lead exposure is as it has to be tested locally at every faucet. What we know though is that newer buildings since the 90s have very low risk of lead exposure unless the city water in general has an issue. For example, Thames Water in the UK recommends using a filter if you live in a house built before the 1970s. Read more about tap water in London and the UK.
What is the risk?
The biggest problem is that there is no safe level of lead. Exposure is especially bad for young children who are still developing. Therefore even lead levels below EPAs and WHOs recommendations may have a negative health impact. What makes it even worse is that it’s very difficult to test for lead in tap water. Even if a lab test doesn’t detect lead in the water there could be lead the next day. Lead usually doesn’t leech constantly from pipes but comes and goes. Therefore it’s better to be safe than sorry for cities and buildings with possible lead corrosion and use a water filter.
How to remove lead from tap water?
Historically removing lead required expensive reverse osmosis or distillation filters. These filters also remove healthy minerals and waste a lot of water and energy in the process. Another preventive method is to flush out lead by letting the water run for 2 min every time of use. However, this is inconvenient, water wasting and still not entirely safe. Recent improvements in water filtration technology and materials have thankfully changed this. Now even small activated carbon filters can remove 95% of lead or more reducing exposure to safe levels. These filters can easily be installed on the faucet without the need for a plumber and cost as little as 60 euros or pounds per year. But you need to chose a lead water filter.
What are the best water filters to remove lead from tap water?
There are lots of options available today including pitchers, faucet water filters, gravity filters, under-the-sink and whole house filters. If the major concern is removing lead and other common contaminants then a faucet filter is usually the best choice. One example is EcoPro by TAPP Water specifically designed and tested for lead removal in accordance with NSF-53. Read about how TAPP compares to Brita, PUR, Culligan and Zerowater and the Best Water Filters 2022. Make sure that the filter is independently tested and certified to remove lead.
Read more about EcoPro in comparison to other faucet water filters
How to find out if there's lead in your tap water
If you’re concerned about lead then a water lab test might also be a good idea. Depending on where you live the local water company might offer lab tests for free and otherwise there are hundreds of certified labs that will do the test for you.
*A 2016 survey by The Meyocks Group, an Iowa-based marketing firm, found that 43 percent of Americans either believe their tap water is unsafe to drink or are unsure of its safety.
- Lead exposure in tap water can exist anywhere but the highest risk is old buildings with lead pipes
- Lead exposure above safe levels is bad for everyone but especially bad for infants and children as there is no safe level
- An affordable high quality faucet water filter such as EcoPro can almost entirely remove lead from tap water
- To test if there's lead in your tap water contact a local water lab