Lead in drinking water became a huge topic of discussion after the Flint water crisis. In that tragedy, over 100,000 people were exposed to leaded drinking water. We won’t go over the details of the (ongoing) crisis, but something like that can happen in your municipality. The only way to protect against it is by utilizing a drinking water filter that can remove lead.
Our number one water filter for removing lead is the Express Water Reverse Osmosis system. Reverse osmosis is the most effective way to remove lead from water and the Express Water RO is our favorite choice in that category. The EPA also recommends using that type of system to eliminate lead.
We have three other choices that we recommend. Just check out the below list.
Best Water Filters for Lead Removal
As mentioned earlier, the Express Water RO system (Amazon link) is our recommended system for removing lead from drinking water. In fact, reverse osmosis removes much more than just lead. It removes over 1000 contaminants from water.
Some of these contaminants include arsenic, mercury, chlorine, pharmaceuticals, and lead. These systems can do this because of the .00001 micron filter that water is forced through. All the contaminants and other bad stuff gets stuck in the filter and not your drinking water.
Now, when we say it removes lead it actually removes 95%-98% of the lead. It would be impossible for something to remove all the lead. Remember, your water probably does not contain a significant amount of lead, so removing 98% of that lead will result in a statistically insignificant amount of lead in your water.
The bigger disadvantage with a reverse osmosis unit is that you can’t use them for your whole home. Well, you can find a whole house reverse osmosis system, but they are extremely expensive to purchase and maintain. They are very rare.
If you want a whole house lead filter, then check out our next product.
Best Whole House Water Filter for Removing Lead: KleenWater PWF4520LRDS
KleenWater makes the best option for removing lead from your entire home’s water supply. You want to place this unit before your hot water tank. This will extend the life of the filter and provide unleaded water to all the faucets in your home.
An important caveat with this system is that your plumbing must not contain any lead. If the lead in your water is from your internal plumbing, then this unit will not really change anything. Make sure you determine the source of the lead in your water before rushing out to purchase a whole house lead water filter.
Other than that one issue, these things are excellent. You won’t have to worry about bathing in lead, which can lead to hair loss. This system also removes chlorine, some chemicals, and sediment.
It’s not a water softener though, but removing the chlorine will help extend the life of appliances. It’s just not as effective as removing the calcium from water.
Best Countertop Water Filter for Lead Removal: Pure Water Mini-Classic
This is a countertop solution. It actually purifies water by distillation, which removes virtually all the contaminants from water.
Distillation works by evaporating the water and then collecting the condensation in a separate container. Lead obviously does not evaporate, so the new water contains no lead. Distillation works great for removing a lot of different contaminants from water.
Unfortunately, the distillation process takes a long time and the distillation systems are kind of expensive. This makes them our least recommended method for lead filtration. However, if you have another use for distilled water, then it really is a great method.
Just understand that it will take a few hours to produce 3 gallons of pure water. That is much slower than a reverse osmosis system or a whole house filter (almost instant). The upside is that a distillation system has virtually no maintenance costs other than a little bit of time cleaning out the sediment.
All in all, most people should avoid distillation. Stick to reverse osmosis or a whole house filter. We have a whole article on water distillation that you can check out. It covers the process and recommends a few different countertop units.
Frequently Asked Questions About Water Filters for Lead
Why do I need a water filter for lead?
The statistics on lead in water are sobering. It’s even more sobering once you understand how lead poisoning works.
First, traces of lead are found in the plumbing fixtures of almost every home in America. We’re already off to a bad start here. This lead can seep into your water over time.
Now, lead poisoning enters the picture here. Lead is a heavy metal, which means it works differently than other types of contaminants found in water.
It accumulates in your body over your entire life. Once you have enough lead in your body, then you have lead poisoning. Unfortunately, the CDC has not released any specific levels of lead in the blood that indicate lead poisoning. They do indicate that 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in children is cause for public concern.
As for the symptoms, they’re pretty severe.
It more severely affects children and pregnant women. Some symptoms include decreased cognitive function, delayed growth, hair loss, anemia, seizures, and death. If a pregnant women has a high amount of lead in her bloodstream, then the fetus will be exposed to it as well. This can lead to birth defects.
How does lead get into tap water?
Lead enters drinking water from the piping. Specifically, it enters when the piping corrodes enough and the lead leeches into the water. The lead solder used in brass or chrome faucets is usually the main source. This corrosion of solder is especially common if the water is hot, acidic, or contains a low amount of minerals.
Fortunately, this isn’t too much of a problem in homes built after 1986 because of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law lowered the maximum amount of lead permissible in plumbing fixtures. However, notice that I said “lowered” and not eliminated.
Lead is still used in plumbing fixtures. Even fixtures that say “lead-free.”
This makes it especially important to test the lead levels in your water.
How do I test for lead in water?
The easiest, and least effective, to test for lead in the water is to find the water test results from your municipality. This has to be under a certain amount by law. The bigger problem is that the pipes in your city may contain lead. In fact, that exact scenario is what occurred in Flint, Michigan.
A more effective method involves collecting a sample of water from your home and take it to a water testing laboratory in your hometown. You can also use Google to search for a laboratory. A better alternative is to find a laboratory from the website of your local water department. This way you know it’s reputable.
You can purchase a testing kit online. I wouldn’t recommend it though. You will get much more accurate results from an actual laboratory.
How do I minimize lead contamination?
A water filter solution that removes lead is a good place to start. More than that can be done to though.
If you want to totally remove the lead from your home, then you should reinstall your plumbing to fixtures that contain no lead. However, if your municipality has lead in their pipes, then you will still have to purchase a filter.
Other ways to reduce lead include frequently flushing your pipes and using cold water. Flushing your pipes just means not letting water sit in your pipes for too long. The longer water sits in the pipes; the more likely lead will enter the water.
Cold water is interesting. It actually has a lower concentration of lead than hot water. This is because lead does not evaporate, which means that as more water evaporates more lead will be left behind.
Anyway, purchasing a filter is the best method to reduce lead. Like we said, you never know if it leeches into the water while in the pipes between the filtration plant and your home.