Appalachian Water, Air and Soil Analysis, Inc.
"From Pollution to Solution" P.O. Box 3364 Cleveland, Georgia 30528 USA 1_706_219_3349
Standard home water/sediment filters are like sieves that hold back only large particles. Virtually ALL toxic chemicals and most bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and many other particles are small enough to pass through this "sieve" and can therefore enter your home's drinking water.
Do your filters look like this?
If so, toxic chemicals are not being removed and you may have "harmless" bacteria in your system. The same "harmless" bacteria that are present in your toilet tanks, sinks, on countertops, and in other places you probably disinfect on a regular basis with Lysol, bleach, and various antiseptic lotions and sprays.
Testing provides the information needed to decide whether or not you need a different filter so chemicals will be removed, whether or not bacteria are present, whether they can be controlled by nutrient limitation, which bacteria are present and thus what purification technology will work.
During our work we have discovered that the water from about 1 out of 25 wells in our area contains arsenic. We have also discovered that the arsenic is often NOT dissolved in the water, but found in the sediment and solids that can be removed with an appropriate sediment filter that is properly maintained. That was really great news to our clients, because it meant that even if they had arsenic in their drinking water, just changing the kind of sediment filter they were using, and maintaining it properly, would remove that threat in at least some cases. And this entails NO additional cost - just proper testing to identify a problem, if it exists, and then knowing what to do!
We have found one well which the owner was planning to use to bottle the water. Testing revealed it contained lead. If he had not intended to use the water commercially, he may never have tested the water. He would have continued drinking it as it was. The purification we recommended meant that our client could use that water safely, (without drilling a new well that may have just given them more tainted water) and for the lowest possible cost. The best quality at the lowest cost to solve a real problem that no one knew about before testing!!
With proper testing and treatment you can protect against virtually any kind of accidental or intentional contamination of your drinking water!!
Much water in North Georgia has "permanent" hardness, which is caused by chemicals other than calcium and magnesium and cannot be removed with standard water softeners. It requires treatment with a LESS expensive strong base anion exchange unit. Sometimes softeners mask this hardness, but they cannot remove it and it therefore continues to adversely affect cleaners, water heaters, hot tub plumbing and pumps, etc.
See our section on how to choose which tests to request on a first water test.
Work done by Kentucky Dept of Agricultural Engineering for the USEPA:
Following is a Consumer Report Research Article Excerpt:
Filtering your tap water gives you control over what's removed from the water you drink. Unlike bottled water, many filters tell you exactly what they filter out. Filters also give you clean water that's cheaper than bottled water delivered to your home; that's about 30 to 50 cents per gallon on average vs. 89 cents to more than $2 per gallon. A filtering system may have drawbacks, however. You must replace filter cartridges every few months, the system may not deliver water quickly enough when you need it and, depending on the type of system, you may need to pay a plumber to install it.
All filtering systems work the same way: Water passes through a removable cartridge filled with a filtering medium such as charcoal. The systems and replacement cartridges are sold at home centers, mass merchandisers, and supermarkets. There's a screw-on filter for just about every kind of tap in your home--sink, shower head, and refrigerator water dispenser--plus more elaborate systems that go under your sink or in a basement.
For this report, we tested 19 models ranging from $18 to $240. We spiked water with lead and chloroform, a trihalomethane (THM), both widespread contaminants and health hazards at high concentrations. We ran up to 240 gallons through each filter (less for carafes, or if a filter clogged). To see how well the filters removed off-tastes, we cooked up batches of cabbage-flavored water, ran it through each filter, and tasted the results.
We tested five types of systems. Two--carafes and faucet-mount filters--can be installed without calling a plumber. We found both suitable for removing off-tastes if you don't have a severe contamination problem. Both also shield you from spikes in lead or THM levels.
Three other types of systems--undersink, reverse-osmosis, and whole-house (also called point-of-entry)--are best installed by a professional plumber or seasoned amateur. Most were fine for filtering lead and chloroform and for improving taste.
BEYOND THE CARAFE
CONSIDERING THE CLAIMS
All tested filters made removal claims. Those claims are certified by National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF), a nonprofit testing lab. To be assured a filter will remove a contaminant, its label should specify that the filter is NSF-certified for that substance.
The filter you choose may be certified by another testing agency, or it may not have any independent third-party certification of performance. Having independent testing and certification of performance certainly supports the validity of any performance claim.
The top-rated undersink model, the Kenmore 38460, $80, A CR Best Buy, is certified to remove sediment, small particulates that cloud water, and cysts (formed by parasites). Both the undersink Omni CBF-20, $170, and Culligan SY-2500, $180, claim to remove more: the pesticides lindane and atrazine, mercury, and asbestos. (The Omni was ranked higher than the Culligan because it didn't clog as much.)
Some manufacturers offer
replacement cartridges, each designed to remove different contaminants. You can
use those interchangeably, if they're the same size and brand as the cartridge
included with the filtering system.
Carafes. These sit in the fridge or on a counter. Pour water into the top and it's filtered as it trickles into the bottom reservoir. We tested half-gallon carafes, which fill in about 20 minutes. If that's not enough water, there are higher-capacity versions (photo above).
Comment: Nearly all were rated very good or excellent at removing lead and chloroform, which is sufficient for most people's needs. Our sensory panelists found the Pur Advantage CR-1500R, $18, good, and the Brita Classic OB01, $20, very good at removing off-tastes.
Faucet-mounted systems. These screw directly onto a sink faucet. When you don't need to filter, such as when rinsing dishes, a valve lets you bypass the filter. Their cartridges last longer than the carafes' but still must be replaced four times per year. The rate at which they deliver water can slow with use.
Comment: The two models we tested were very good at removing lead and excellent at removing chloroform and off-tastes. The Pur Ultimate Horizontal FM-4700L, $43, clogged well before its cartridge's 100-gallon lifetime; it slowed to 10 minutes per gallon by the time it had filtered 60 gallons in our tough tests.
PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION SUGGESTED
Undersink systems. These attach to the cold-water line beneath a sink. The housing can be attached to a wall or cabinet back. Filtered water is drawn through a separate faucet. Some systems include that faucet; with others, you may need to buy one.
Comment: All the tested models were excellent at removing chloroform and most were very good or excellent at removing lead and off-tastes. Compared with the faucet-mounted models in our tests, most undersink models delivered water more quickly and were less prone to clog.
Reverse-osmosis systems. These undersink models use a special membrane to remove contaminants. Larger and more expensive than other undersink systems, they can take up most of the space beneath a sink. Removing dissolved minerals is their strength. Reverse-osmosis systems deliver water very slowly--about 50 minutes per half-gallon--too slow for most households. They also waste about 5 gallons for each gallon purified and require periodic sanitizing with bleach.
Comment: Both models we tested were excellent at lead removal. They were very good or excellent at removing chloroform and excellent at removing off-tastes.
Whole-house (point-of-entry) systems. These hook up to your home's water main, so you can use filtered water for bathing, laundry, and dishes. If your tap water contains sediment, a whole-house system can protect your appliances and eliminate having to periodically clean out clogged faucet aerators.
Comment: The two models we tested weren't as effective as any of the other systems at removing chloroform. The Kenmore 38440, $35, was quite effective at removing lead and off tastes, while the Omni U-25, $55, was poor at both. Neither model claimed to remove chloroform or lead. They delivered water fairly speedily and weren't prone to clogging, although the Omni's filter cartridges last only three months.
The two faucet-mounted models and the five top-rated undersink models did an excellent job of removing off-tastes. For removing both lead and chloroform, all models but the whole-house units are fine.
If you need help remembering to change cartridges, look for models with a cartridge-life indicator. Those are noted in the Ratings, as are contaminants we didn't test for that each filter is certified to remove. If no model handles the ones you're concerned about, check the site of other testing and certification programs including NSF at www.nsf.org, UL at www.ul.com, and WQA at www.wqa.org for models that do. You may need to search for drinking water treatment units.
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