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Healthy Water Filter Tips

Healthy Home 2008, Spring 2008

The United States has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. In fact, tap water is just as safe as water from bottles, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. But certain impurities and contaminants make it into the water that comes into your home. Lead pipes in older dwellings can leach the metal, and well water can contain fertilizers and dangerous pesticides from agriculture, or even your lawn. Find out just what's coming out of your faucet so you can protect yourself and your family.

Careful
A $20 home kit from Watersafe tests for common contaminants. If you have municipal (not well) water, you can also check the Environmental Protection Agency. The five best major water systems -- with little or no need for filtration -- are New York City; Seattle; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Boston.

More Careful
Do more comprehensive testing. Private firms can test your well water for pesticides, lead, coliform bacteria, arsenic, and many other worrisome compounds. Call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) for a referral to a reliable testing service in your area. Your state's Department of Public Health may also be able to refer you.

Most Careful
If you find anything you don't like in the water coming out of your tap, don't turn to bottled water. Instead, use a filter. Point-of-entry filters treat water before it enters your home, whereas point-of-use units include filter pitchers, faucet filters, and under-the-sink filters. Look for a filter certified by NSF International -- an independent research firm -- that also removes the specific contaminants in your water.