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The Water We Drink: Home Water Filters that Help

Reverse osmosis Is the best—and costliest—bet.

Kinetico K5 Drinking water station, $1,800.

Although drinking water in the Washington area meets federal safety standards, water filters are common in area homes. Refrigerator, under-the-counter, and even carafe filters all aim to purify water, but can any of them filter out endocrine-disrupting compounds? If so, which ones do it best?

Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a coauthor of the Endocrine Society’s scientific statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, says that “filters using reverse osmosis would be the most reliable, but also the most expensive, to rid water of EDCs.”

Reverse osmosis (RO) works by reversing the flow of water during natural osmosis, allowing the water to pass from more concentrated to more dilute solutions through a semipermeable membrane. RO systems, both countertop and under-the-sink, are ranked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as highly effective in removing bacteria, viruses, and common chemical contaminants, including lead, copper, and chloride.

Kenmore Elite 38556, $200.

Zoeller can’t say for sure which manufacturer of RO filters is best, so he suggests consulting Consumer Reports. “I know the methodology behind their tests and trust their results,” he says.

The May 2010 issue of Consumer Reports listed the Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station ($1,800), the Coway P-07QL ($600), and the Kenmore Elite 38556 ($200) among the top choices.

If you want to double your filtration efforts, the Environmental Working Group says a filter that utilizes an RO system combined with a superior carbon filter—such as the under-the-counter Multipure Aquacomplete ($580)—is one way to go.

Go back to What’s In the Water We Drink?

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

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