You’ve decided that you want to drink more water in 2014 but aren’t comfortable with bottled water or tap water. You’ve decided against bottled water because of the high cost, plastic packaging, environmental footprint and inconvenience and tap water because of the chlorine taste and odour as well as the uncertainty regarding its safety.
If you are like most people, you really want to champion tap water, but the high amount of chlorine makes drinking it a chore rather than a pleasure and it’s just one more chemical that you would rather not expose your family too. Maybe you’ve taken the first step forward and purchased an inexpensive Brita pitcher style water filter for your fridge. Maybe you’ve purchased an expensive pitcher or pour through water filter from a maker like Soma? Congratulations on taking the first step to better health and better water!
Many people though have lingering doubts about the performance, certification and fine print of Brita pitcher style water filters. Are the concerns justified? Let’s take a closer look at Brita pitchers and similar products from makers like PUR or Soma.
Is your Brita pitcher (or similar filter from PUR or Soma) NSF certified?
What or who is NSF?
Founded in 1944, NSF is a US based, independent, accredited organization, whose mission is to protect and improve global human health through the development of standards and testing/certification for a wide range of products and systems.
What NSF standard should you be looking for in a water filter?
When it comes to water filtration technology (as compared to UV Light or reverse osmosis technology), there are two NSF standards to look for when choosing a water filter for your family: NSF/ANSI 42 addresses aesthetic claims and NSF/ANSI 53 addresses health claims.
NSF/ANSI Standard 42 establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of Point of Use (POU) or Point of Entry (POE) filtration systems designed to reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants (chlorine, taste, odor and particulates) that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The scope of NSF/ANSI 42 includes material safety, structural integrity and aesthetic, non-health-related contaminant reduction performance claims. The most common technology addressed by this standard is carbon filtration.
NSF/ANSI Standard 53 establishes the minimum requirements for the certification of POU/POE filtration systems designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The scope of NSF/ANSI 53 includes material safety, structural integrity and health-related contaminant reduction performance claims. The most common technology addressed by this standard is carbon filtration.
Brita Pitcher Style Water Filters – Our Advice
We believe that the best water filters for home or office use should include certification to both NSF/ANSI Standard 42 and 53, not just one or the other. This is true for Brita pitchers, similar pour through water filters and under the sink water filters.
Both NSF standards work off an “A La Carte” or off-the-menu type of system meaning you have to dig a bit deeper than just the logo and/or certification statement. When you see the following statement you need to find the supporting chart and/or detailed list of contaminants that the claim refers to:
“System tested and certified by NSF international against NSF/ANSI std. 53 and NSF/ANSI std. 42 for the reduction claims specified on the performance data sheet.”
One products’ data sheet may include a long list of contaminants while another might just include a few. Both can claim the same NSF certifications. For instance, according to Brita, their standard replacement filter (Part# OB03) for their pitcher style of product is certified to NSF Standards 42 and 53 but when you look closer, the certification is for only 5 contaminants compared to the 54 contaminants reduced to safe levels by the Finecel Water Filtration System from Elua.
Sidebar…..Of the five contaminants that the Brita product is certified to reduce, 1 is copper (most homes have copper pipes) and 1 is for zinc (yes, like zinc throat and cold lozenges). And…..have you ever tried to find the NSF performance data sheet for Brita water pitchers? It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you Google it or even search the Brita website. You can find reference to it at the end of this user manual or by using the NSF directory tool below.
While the Brita pitcher is certified to remove important contaminants like Chlorine and Mercury, it is not certified to reduce really important contaminants like Lead, MTBE, Asbestos, Protozoan Cysts, Class I particulate and/or VOCs like Benzene and THMs.
What about the pour through pitcher type water filter from PUR?
According to Kaz, Inc. (the manufacturer of the PUR brand) and NSF, the standard replacement filter (Part# CRF-950Z) for the PUR family of Brita pitcher style water filters is certified by NSF to reduce 6 contaminants to safe levels. The additional one (when compared to the Brita product mentioned above) is Class I particulate. Source: http://info.nsf.org/Certified/dwtu/listings.asp?CompanyName=kaz&submit1=Search+by+Manufacturer&Program=DWTU
We sure were until we created the following chart. There is currently no available data for the Soma water filter pitcher as it holds no NSF certifications at this time.
Want to learn more about the performance of your water filter?
Check to see if it is certified to NSF/ANSI standards? Look it up by manufacturer or brand name on the NSF website here http://info.nsf.org/certified/dwtu/
I hope this helps clarify NSF certification while also explaining some of the core differences in performance between a Brita pitcher water filter or similar product from PUR or Soma and a point of use (POU) under the sink water filter like the 3-Stage Finecel Water Filtration System offered by Elua.
In our next blog post, I’ll take a look at some of the fine print that most users of Brita pitcher water filters are often unaware of including the dreaded filter change (How often? What part # do I need?, How do I prime and soak it correctly?). I’ll also look at some of the conditions of use imposed by the manufacturers of Brita pitcher style water filters such as the need to pre-soak and prime filters, limits on the maximum throughput per day and what you need to do if you haven’t used it for a few days (maybe you went away for the weekend?).
Would you prefer an alternative to your Brita pitcher?
Click here to take back your fridge, enjoy 6 month between filter changes and sign up for automatic shipments of replacement filters from Elua. Of course, we’ll also help eliminate dangerous contaminants from your drinking water like Lead, MTBE, Asbestos, Cysts, Class I particulate and VOCs like Benzene and THMs.
Do you have a Brita pitcher water filter or similar product from another brand? Are you happy with it? Would you like an alternative?