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Lead in water is more common than you think. Due to how harmful lead is to the human body, the EPA has ruled that accepted levels of lead in drinking water is 0.
In other words, because lead is extremely harmful even at low exposure levels, no lead should be tolerated in drinking water.
Unfortunately, there have been (and continue to be) many instances of lead contamination in our drinking water supply. The most notorious of recent years was the Flint Water Crisis.
In 2014, the town of Flint, Michigan changed its tap water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. Unfortunately, the Flint officials didn’t apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. As a result, dangerously high levels of lead leached into the water supply from the old, corroded pipes. The water became contaminated with lead, discolored with rust and even had pathogenic microbes.
Today, cities don’t install lead pipes anymore. But older cities still have pipes made of lead and these can corrode and get into the water supply.
Here are some alarming stats:
- There are estimated to be over 6 million lead service lines (pipes connecting a water main to the plumbing of a building) across the USA
- In 2016, CNN reported that over 5,000 US water systems, serving approximately 18 million people, violated EPA regulations for lead in water
- In 2017, the non-profit Natural Resources Defence Council sued the state officials of Newark for knowingly allowing lead-contaminated water to be supplied to its residents
While this is frightening, the good news is that you can take effective steps to reduce lead contamination in your water by installing an appropriate filtration system. Effective devices can reduce lead contamination by up to 99%.
With that in mind, we’ve covered a list of 8 filtration systems that target lead contamination. We’ve covered a range of point-of-entry and point-of-use devices for any water requirement.
Here are the 8 best filters for lead removal.
Whole House Filter: iSpring WGB32B-PB 3-Stage Filtration System
2 used from $399.91
- Ultra-filtration capacity for lead at 15,000 parts per million
- High flow rate – up to 15 GPM
- DIY installation
- NSF/ANSI certified
If you’re looking for a powerful whole house water filtration system to remove the lead content in your water, the iSpring 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System is an excellent choice.
This point-of-entry system is specially designed to reduce lead below 15,000 ppm from your water, providing your entire household with the luxury of drinking clean, delicious water that’s readily available.
The device uses a three-stage process to achieve this. It includes a sediment filter, a carbon block filter that uses high-quality coconut shell carbon for maximum filtration and finally a lead removal filter with a 15-ppb capacity.
What we liked about this the iSpring Whole House System is that unlike most whole house filtration systems, it has no negative impact on the flow rate of the water which can go as high as 15 GPM.
This system is very easy to install and requires minimum maintenance. You can install it on your own, referring to the instruction manual that’s included in the box or by watching YouTube videos which will make the process easier.
Under Sink Filter: Woder SD-4K Ultra High Capacity Filter
- WQA Certified to NSF standards
- No plumbing required
- Compact design
- 3 gpm flow rate
The Woder Ultra High Capacity Under Sink water filtration system is an excellent product for anyone needing a solution for high lead content in their water. It’s an inline under-sink filter which takes up little space yet works effectively.
This system uses Advanced Selective Filtration Technology to remove 99.9% of lead and other contaminants while retaining all the essential minerals in your water.
Not only does it perform excellently by purifying your water, removing a wide variety of contaminants, but it also removes unpleasant odors, tastes and turbidity, leaving it clean, healthy and safe to use.
We liked that this system comes complete with everything needed for installation. It includes direct connect hoses that fit all standard water valves under bathroom and kitchen sinks, installed directly to the cold-water valve and faucet stem.
The best part is that it requires no plumbing and can be installed as a DIY project. It also requires very low maintenance since the filters are good for up to 3 years or 10,000 gallons of water, only after which time they would need to replaced.
This system, made in the USA, is NSF/ANSI 372 certified for lead-free compliance and is small enough to fit under your sink perfectly. Once it’s set up, you should notice a significant difference in both the taste and feel of your water.
Reverse Osmosis System: iSpring RCC7 High Capacity Under Sink 5-Stage Filter
- Removes up to 99% of over 1000 contaminants in water
- Removes up to 98% of lead
- Easy DIY installation – all tools included
- Affordable price
- High capacity system
Another great product from iSpring, this 5-stage Reverse Osmosis filtration system is highly effective. It’s also affordable and compact, fitting into most under-sink cabinets.
The system removes up to 98% of lead along with 1,000 other contaminants.
We were really impressed by this unit which is very cost-effective and performs excellently to give you and your family safe, great-tasting water every time you turn on your faucets.
This iSpring Reverse Osmosis Filtration System produces up to 75 gallons of drinking water per day through a 5-stage process.
It uses 3 different types of filters including a sediment filter, 3 carbon filters and a reverse osmosis membrane to remove all the contaminants.
One key selling point of this device is that the filters are guaranteed to last longer and cost less so replacing them will be easy and affordable.
They should be replaced every 6 months, but this depends on the water quality and your usage. This unit also boasts a much bigger RO membrane which allows for longer membrane life and increase flow rate so that your drinking water will be made cleaner in less time.
The membrane must be replaced once every 2-4 years, and this is all the maintenance that it requires.
This reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system by iSpring is one of teh most affordable yet effective of all RO systems on the market and gives you real value for your money.
Countertop Filter: Universal 5-stage Reverse Osmosis RO Purification System
- Up to 98% lead removal
- Small and portable design
- Highly efficient filters
- Removes 99% of contaminants
- Most components NSF certified
The Countertop Portable Universal 5-stage RO water purification system is guaranteed to remove 95% -98% of lead, resulting in clean, lead-free water. This unit uses a 5-stage filtration process, utilizing reverse osmosis technology, to purify water.
Unlike most other reverse osmosis system, this device doesn’t need any installation. All you need to do is attach the filter to the existing faucet using a chromed metal diverter, which is included in the box. This should take all of 60 seconds to do.
Keep in mind that you need to leave the RO system running for one whole hour the very first time you use it because this is required to activate the filters.
While the filtration process is very slow (1 gallons per 24 minutes), this ensures that the filtration process is effective. It’s best to collect the water in advance to avoid having to wait around for a glass to fill.
The downside of this filtration system is that it doesn’t come with a tank meaning you won’t have a constant source of water. Other than that, it’s a great countertop filtration choice.
Shower Water Filter – Crater Aqua 15-Stages Shower Water Filter
- Uses KDF 55 to reduce lead
- Affordable price point
- No leaking
- Easy installation
According to the EPA, showering in lead contaminated water isn’t harmful, because the skin doesn’t absorb lead into the body. The problem is that the likelihood of accidently ingesting shower water is high, especially for children.
When it comes to finding the best shower filter for water that’s high in lead content, the Crater Aqua 15-Stages Shower Filter is second to none.
This filter blends in active carbon, KDF-55, calcium sulphite and silver ceramic balls in different stages of filtration to effectively reduce lead, chlorine and other impurities in your bath water.
This shower purifier is compatible with all standard types of shower heads and comes with 2 cartridges (one inside and ready for use and the other is a refill cartridge).
These will last from 3-6 months or 12,000 gallons depending on the quality of water in your area and your usage. This equates to about 1300 standard showers.
Replacing the filters is also an easy process as all you have to do is to simply twist it on and that’s it.
You also get universal placement to ensure that your water supply has all of its impurities removed. Installation is very easy and you don’t need any special knowledge or tools for it. Just screw the filter on and it’s ready for use.
Filter Pitcher – Aquagear BPA-Free Filter Jug
4 used from $60.88
- Removes 99.9% lead
- Includes lead filter
- Independently tested to meet NSF standards (not NSF certified)
- Large pitcher capacity – ½ gallon
- Lifetime warranty
- 100% BPA-free, FDA-approved materialss
The Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher is one of the best choices you can make when it comes to selecting a filter pitcher that eliminates toxic metals from your drinking water. This pitcher is 100% recyclable and made in the USA using only food grade materials.
Because filter pitchers target your drinking water, lead removal is an important consideration. The Aquagear meets the NSF standards for contaminant reduction and effectively eliminates up to 99.9% of lead in your water along with another contaminants.
The Aquagear works through a five-stage process to eliminate a high number of contaminants. One of these filters is specially targeted for lead removal as well as to protect you and your family from the contaminants that other filters could miss.
One of the best things about this pitcher is that its filters can last three or four times longer than others, with the capacity of filtering up to 150 gallons of water.
With minimum maintenance, this filter pitcher is guaranteed to keep you satisfied, healthy and hydrated.
The unit is BPA-free, meeting and NSF Standards 42 and 53 for contaminant reduction. In addition to all this, it comes with a lifetime guarantee, and if it ever breaks, the company will replace it for you free of charge.
Faucet Filter – Brita Water Faucet Filtration System
5 used from $21.42
- Reduce 99% of lead
- Filters out 60 contaminants
- Filter change reminder
- Easy availability of filters
This NSF-certified faucet filter by Brita is one of our top picks because of its high effectiveness at removing 99% of lead and other contaminants that are commonly found in tap water.
It has the capacity to provide up to 100 gallons of filtered tap water, also eliminating any foul tastes or odors.
We were impressed by this product since it’s also baby-friendly, improving the drinking water for women during pregnancy and contributing to better formula for infants.
Installation and Maintenance:
The Brita Water Faucet Filtration System is easy and convenient to use. It can be attached to your standard faucet and hardly takes any effort to install.
It comes with a filter change reminder that lets you know when your filter needs to be replaced.
It’s not difficult to maintain this unit, as all you need to do is replace the filter every 4 months for the average household.
Inline Refrgerator Filter: Woder WD-10K
2 used from $40.61
- Retains essential minerals
- Simple installation
Inline filters are excellent choices for refrigerators because they often have universal compatibility. However, make sure that the filter works with your fridge before you purchase as some fridges only work with the brand name filter.
The Woder inline refrigerator filter is the perfect choice for those looking for a top-notch filter to eliminate lead from their drinking water.
This model offers excellent filtration using Advanced Selective Filtration Technology that removes 99.9% percent of lead and other contaminants. This makes the water and pure for you to drink. It will also taste great and be much healthier as all the essential minerals will be retained.
Installation and Maintenance:
This filter is a frustration free product meaning that its packaging is made of 100% recyclable materials and easy to open. It requires low maintenance since it can last for up to 3 years or 10,000 gallons after which you need to replace the filter.
This unit comes complete with the filter body and all the necessary clips, screws and hoses that you need to install it. Installation is easy and you can do it yourself referring to the instruction manual. The convenience of this model and its long filter life is what makes it stand out from the rest.
How Does Lead Get into Water?
According to the EPA, here are the most common sources of lead seeping into drinking water:
- Lead pipes – these are likely to be found in older homes built before 1986.
- Faucets – these can contain lead in their construction
- Fixtures – using lead soldering to plumb fixtures
This shows that lead often gets into the water on its way to your home. The water supply itself could be uncontaminated at its source. However, lead can get into the water on the journey from the water source to your faucet.
Several factors can impact the severity of lead levels in water. These include:
- pH levels of the water – higher acidity increases corrosion
- low mineral content
- amount of lead in the pipes or fixtures
- how old and worn the pipes are
- how long the water is exposed to the pipes
- the temperature of the water
- whether any protective coatings have been applied within the pipes
Depending on these factors, your lead levels can be very severe (like in the Flint Crisis) or very mild.
The Harmful Effects of Lead in Water
We’ve been talking a lot about lead in water and how to remove it, but why exactly is it important to remove lead from your drinking water? What can it do to your health?
Here’s a clue:
The EPA sets standards for various contaminants in drinking water. Some contaminants have an accepted maximum level. For example, the maximum accepted level of chlorine in drinking water is 4 parts per million or mg/L. The maximum accepted level for lead is 0.
The reason is because lead is so harmful that there is no accepted level at which it causes no harm to humans. Even low exposure to lead can cause issues.
Lead is especially harmful for children with dire consequences for children, even with low exposure. Some of these include:
- Learning disabilities
- Stunted growth
- Impaired hearing
- Impaired growth of blood cells
For pregnant women, lead can be extremely harmful as it transfers to the growing child. It can cause:
- Premature birth
- Slowed growth of fetus
Lead is also harmful for the average adult. Some effects include:
- Negative impacts on the cardiovascular system
- Reduced kidney function
- Issues with reproduction for both men and women
One thing to note is that these issues only factor in if the water is consumed. Drinking or cooking with water containing lead results in the above-mentioned negative effects.
However, showering or bathing in water contaminated with lead will not have the same adverse effects. This is because our bodies can’t absorb lead and so the lead will not be able to impact our systems.
Even so, it’s always best to avoid any water with lead as it’s possible to accidently ingest water while showering in lead-contaminated water.
Because lead leaves no traces in water – you can’t see, taste or smell lead in water – testing your water and ensuring it’s lead-free is essential.
How to Find Out if Your Water Has Lead
To know if there’s lead in your drinking water, it’s important to check the quality of the water. This can be done in a few different ways.
- Your first port of call should be your public water supplier. These organizations constantly monitor the water supply, checking for contaminants. Every year, they release a water quality report. You can get in touch with your water supplier to find out what’s in your water by accessing their water quality report. If you have a private water supply, then the onus of monitoring its quality falls on you. You can check with relevant authorities about the groundwater in the vicinity.
- Test your water for lead. This is the best option as it tackles the water in your home. As we’ve already mentioned, even if the water source is lead-free, your water can be contaminated with lead from pipes and fixtures. Having your water tested will ensure that the water coming out of your faucets are lead-free. This is the safest way to know that you’re not ingesting lead in your water. Ensure that a certified lab is doing the testing as you can then rely on the results.
- Test your water at home. You can use a lead testing kit to test your water at home. However, ensure that you purchase a high-quality lead testing kit like this one and make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. There is a chance that the test results are faulty, in which case it’s best to do the test a couple of times to get an average reading and if not, to go for option 2 and have a professional lab do the job.
How to Remove Lead from Water
Filtration is an excellent way to remove lead from your water, with some advanced models able to remove up to 99% of lead particles in water.
However, not all filters do what they say. Some make wild claims but can’t back these up with performance. One way to choose an effective filter is to look for certification. For lead, the most reputable certifying bodies and standards are:
- NSF/ANSI 53 Standards – filters with this certification means that they have been tested to remove health-related contaminants, including lead, mercury, arsenic and other similar harmful impurities.
- Water Quality Association (WQAS 200) – this is a third party body that certifies water supplies against the NSF/ANSI standards
Look for the logo of the certifying body and the claim of lead reduction on the package.
So, what type of filters remove lead from water? Some best options include:
- Reverse Osmosis Systems – RO filtration systems are extremely comprehensive and remove almost all contaminants from water. These systems are among the best options if you’re worried about lead and other types of impurities in your water. RO systems typically fit snugly under your sink and are relatively affordable. However, they do waste a lot of water during the filtering process.
- Distillation – Distillation offers the purest water, with next to no contaminants at all. This is why many prefer distillation for baby formula or for those with weak immune systems. A distiller is a handy little machine, much like a regular kettle, that boils water and condenses it, free of impurities. However, the taste of the water can be affected in this process. Also, distillation isn’t very energy efficient.
- Carbon Filtration – Carbon filters come in two main forms – granular activated carbon (GAC) and activated carbon block (ACB). We’ve compared these two types in depth in this article, highlighting their pros and cons. Carbon filters are the most popular type of filtration medium used in water filters. They’re excellent at removing chlorine from water, as well as most other impurities. Look for certification to ensure that the carbon filtration system works as it should and removes lead to a certain percentage.
These Do Not Filter Out Lead:
- Water Softening Systems: Contrary to some belief, water softening systems do not remove harmful lead from water. These systems are designed to remove hardness ions from your water but are not filtration systems that remove contaminants. As such, they should not be expected to remove impurities, including lead.
- Boiling water: Boiling water kills microbes, but it doesn’t remove chemicals and particles, including lead. In fact, boiling water can intensify the concentrations of lead in your water.
- Using water purification tablets: These tablets purify water by targeting harmful bacteria and pathogens, but they don’t remove other impurities from your water. If you’re in an emergency situation where you suspect the water may be lead-contaminated, find a way to filter your water instead of using purification tablets to purify it.
The Bottom Line
Lead in water is unfortunately a common problem even though the EPA mandates that there should be zero levels of lead in water. While it’s good to know that federal regulations take lead contamination seriously, there are still many instances where lead has managed to get into people’s drinking water.
Knowing how harmful lead is for children, adults and pregnant women, ensuring that water remains lead-free is essential for good health.
If you’re worried about lead in your water, first test your water to understand the extent of the issue. Next, find the best solution for your home. We’ve outlined the best filters for different aspects in your home – from point-of-entry filters to point-of-use filters. Hopefully, you will have found this information useful.
If there is lead in your water, don’t panic. Not knowing is the danger. Once you know, you can effectively tackle the situation.