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Brita, PUR & Co. – How to Clean a Water Filter and Refill Activated Charcoal

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

In theory, cleaning and reusing your old water filter is a better alternative to replacing it with a new cartridge every month or so. The latter is not only more expensive, it’s also a burden on the environment.

However, if you want to be able to fully enjoy the benefits of home water filtration – and that is pure water – cleaning a used filter isn’t always that simple and effective. What you can and what you shouldn’t do you are going to learn in this post.

How to Clean a Water Filter

First of all, if and how you can clean your water filter depends on what type you are using. While some such as synthetic fiber-pleated sediment filters can be cleaned well to restore filtration speed and effectiveness, others like most paper models are less suited for this.

Also, you should consider if the whole cleaning process is really worth your time, opposed to simply making annual or biannual replacements that are going to cost you $40 in total.

What’s more, through cleaning you won’t be able to remove all the trapped contaminants so replacing your old filter with a new one will eventually need to happen. And although bleach does a great job at disinfection,  there is no guarantee that bacteria, mold, mildew or any other harmful germs will not accumulate inside your filter without you noticing.

In other words: Especially if you are going to use the water for drinking you want to make sure that the filtration is up to standards and can compete with a brand-new cartridge.

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Sediment Filters

If you are on a private well with high iron content or excess hardness, or your city supply contains high amounts of impurities, cleaning your sediment (pre-)filter on a regular basis is a great way to extend its lifespan. Here’s what you need to do (does not work for all filter types):

  1. First, you will require some type of acid. Muriatic acid and oxalic acid work great for this. If you prefer oxalic acid, mix about 2 oz of oxalic acid powder (available on Amazon) with 1 gallon of plain water. Muriatic acid can be bought as a pre-mixed solution.
  2. Remove the filter housing and take out the cartridge.
  3. Put the O-ring aside.
  4. Rinse the housing to get all heavy particles out.
  5. Thoroughly rinse off the filter. The more you get off through mechanical cleaning now, the more effective your acid mixture is going to be.
  6. Soak the housing with the cartridge inside of it in the acid solution for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the level of contamination). No scrubbing whatsoever is required here.
  7. Thoroughly rinse both components with plain water. You want to make sure that there remain no acid leftovers.
  8. Before you put everything back together let the filter dry.

On a side note: You can neutralize the acid with regular baking soda – a couple of tablespoons should be enough – so that you don’t have to worry about pouring it down your drain.

If your sediment filter has passed the point of no return and you are looking for a worthy replacement, make sure to consult the BOS whole house water filter reviews guide.

Carbon (Charcoal) Cartridges

Most carbon block filters consist of 3 layers. In their inside there is the solid carbon block obviously. Wrapped around it is a paper-type layer. The paper removes impurities from your water that the carbon could not trap. At its outside, a carbon filter usually has a plastic mesh netting that holds the paper in place. To clean the filter, you will need to remove that netting:

  1. You can use a knife to cut twice around the entire perimeter as close to the top/bottom of the cartridge as possible. Remove the netting.
  2. Then cut through the paper layer underneath but leave a small strip, maybe a half inch, attached to the inner carbon block. This way the paper stays on and is easy to roll back up.
  3. Peel back the outside paper layer.
  4. Use your garden hose to rinse off all the rough dirt from the paper as well as the charcoal core.
  5. Use warm water with one or two spoonful of bleach to scrub off the paper layer with a brush from both sides.
  6. Let the entire filter soak in the water-bleach mixture for sanitizing.
  7. Meanwhile, you can clean the housing if need be.
  8. Thoroughly rinse everything with clear water.
  9. Roll up the paper layer really tight.
  10. Secure it with a nylon tie at the very top. Trim off the excess end. Add 3 to 4 more nylon ties this way.
  11. Now it’s time to put everything back together.

Following this procedure, you will notice a huge improvement in water taste and pressure. And what’s great is that you can do this several times before replacement is required.

In case your carbon filter does not have a paper layer that you can peel off, use a scrub pad or iron sponge to brush off its outside. This will help to improve water flow and aesthetics a great deal.

Reactivating Activated Carbon

In a forum we read that you could boil an activated carbon block in water for about 15 minutes in order to recharge it. The longer the boiling, the more contaminants will presumably be released.

Not having tried this ourselves, we cannot say if this really works or not.

Brita

Brita filter pitchers and dispensers are easy to use and give you access to somewhat cleaner drinking water. And although you save quite a lot of money compared to buying bottled water, costs for replacement cartridges can start to add up quickly.

However, for less than a dollar you can refill your Brita cartridge with fresh granular activated carbon so you won’t have to buy a new one each month.

activated carbon

Activated carbon (or charcoal) is the main filtration component that Brita filters use. It traps chemical impurities such as chlorine in its pores. But as more and more pores become occupied as time goes by, the filtration becomes less effective until at some point it finally stops.

This is when we have to replace it. By the way, activated carbon is available at your local Walmart for instance and can be bought in bulk at a low price. You can also order online. Either way, you will save a ton of money in the long run.

How does the actual replacement work?

  1. Drill or cut a hole in the middle of the cartridge head. About ½” should do.
  2. Optional: Consider adding a couple of air vents to the top of the casing to increase water flow a.k.a. filtration speed. You can use a sharp knife for this, but be careful not to cut yourself!
  3. Pour the old charcoal out of the hole.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the empty housing with clear water to flush out any remaining filter media.
  5. You might also want to sanitize the housing with household bleach at this point. If you do, rinse thoroughly afterwards.
  6. Fill in the new carbon. Using a funnel makes this a lot easier. The more carbon you add, the longer the cartridge will last.
  7. Carefully knock the filter on your counter so the media can settle inside the cartridge.
  8. Use a cork or rubber piece to seal the hole.
  9. Install the cartridge in your pitcher/dispenser.
  10. Flush the carbon media.

Thanks to this simple modification you can now use your cartridge time and time again which is much more environmentally friendly than throwing another one into the trash every single month.

Prefer video?

Modular Filters (e.g. Refrigerator)

For modular filters that your refrigerator uses all you can do is flush with plain water from both sides. Meanwhile, use a screwdriver to tap on the filter to loosen any larger debris.

Some experts also recommend soaking modular filters in warm water with a gentle cleanser – think vinegar or dish soap. Let the filter soak between 10 and 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse afterwards until the water comes out all clear. Finally, let the filter air-dry before popping it back inside your refrigerator.

How to Unclog a PUR Water Filter

It’s no secret that PUR’s pitcher filters are prone to clogging. After just a couple of days use, you might see a drop in flow rate that makes the whole filtration process painfully slow.

There are two possible explanations for this:

  • According to PUR, bubbles or air pockets have become trapped inside the filter. You can test this by putting it in a bowl full of water and see if it floats.
  • Small Styrofoam balls that are mixed into the activated carbon media have obstructed the holes of the pleated filtering element at the bottom where water is supposed to flow out.

The solution for 1.) is to shake the cartridge for 5 to 6 seconds holding it upside down at a slight angle. Can you hear the carbon moving inside? If that doesn’t help, tap it against a hard surface a couple of times. Put the cartridge back in the water to see if it still floats. If it sinks, pop it back into your pitcher or dispenser. The flow rate should be way better now. If the cartridge continues to float, repeat the shaking and tapping.

If you struggle with Styrofoam balls plugging the holes of the pleated element, force water through each of the small slots at the bottom of the filter. You can use a faucet sprayer for this. This should dislodge whatever is stuck in there.

Clean Only If It Makes Sense

All in all, you should only clean your used water filter if it makes sense, meaning that you can save money doing so, it’s not too much of a time commitment, it’s more ecological than simple replacement and filtration performance will not be compromised – the latter is key!

If that is the case, you now know how to clean a water filter the right way. Happy cleaning.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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Brita, PUR, ZeroWater & Co. – How and Where to Recycle Old Water Filters

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you are using a water filter to get access to cleaner drinking water in your home you have to replace the filter cartridge every once in a while – how often depends on the individual model.

Now despite the fact that home water filtration is much more environmentally-friendly than buying dozens of plastic bottles every week, the used cartridges still add to the landfill. What you can do to counter this is recycle. How? You are about to find out!

What to Do With Old Water Filters?

Proper Disposal – How and Where to Recycle Water Filters

We appreciate the fact that you are concerned about the environment and want to dispose of your old water filters properly. Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t provide a recycling program at this point.

Still, this doesn’t mean that your only option is to throw them in the trash. What you can also do is contact your local recycling center. They may accept the cartridges or give you further information on what you can do with them:

  1. Contact the customer support of your filter manufacturer to find out if they offer a recycling program.
  2. If the answer is “yes”, follow their instructions. Usually the filter has to dry for a couple of days first. Then you can wrap it in plastic and ship it in an appropriate container. Some manufacturers will even send you a pre-stamped envelope so that you can mail your filters for free.
  3. If the answers is “no”, ask what type of plastic was used for the filter shell (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5). You can also check the shell yourself. It will have a number surrounded by three arrows printed on it.
  4. Contact your local recycler to find out what plastic type(s) they accept.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise throw in trash.

On a side note: Some people say that cutting open your used cartridges to dump out the filtering media before throwing the plastic in the recycle bin is fine. Others warn against it since the media likely holds high amounts of contaminants removed from your tap or well water. Cutting open a filter cartridge may expose you to these substances. Personally, we don’t consider this to be an issue – you can wear gloves if you want – but this is up to you to decide (as long as you don’t dump anything in your garden which will release all the contaminants back into the environment.

Companies that do offer a recycling program:

The Gimme 5 recycling program that allows you to drop off any #5 polypropylene plastic at your local Whole Foods Market does NOT accept water filters!

Recyclers Beware!

There are some websites out there claiming that they specialize in filter recycling. However, it turns out that this is often a scam as these companies charge a fee for their “service” on top of the costs for shipping. What’s more, once you have submitted your information, it’s likely that you will get bombarded with sales leads in future.

Bottom line: Working with a legitimate recycling program sponsored by your filter manufacturer is usually the way to go and ensures that all materials are being recycled properly.

Reuse

Some people like to reuse their water filters. They will clean the cartridge – even use bleach – and refill the filter media if needed. We have covered this topic in our post here.

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Just so you know, even the most thorough cleaning procedure does not guarantee that your refurbished filter will perform like it was brand-new, let alone be 100% free from contaminant leftovers and germs.

If it’s finally time for you to order a new home water filter, here are our favorite systems.

Brita & PUR

Both Brita and PUR have teamed up with TerraCycle, a recycling and upcycling company that has committed to repurposing “non-recyclable” products into affordable innovative products, such as pouches, pencils and potting supplies (for the whole range of products click here).

If you are a Brita customer, you can sign up to the free Brita Rewards program. When logged in simply fill out the form to get a free shipping label. Now you can recycle pitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet units and any packaging in 3 easy steps:

  1. Allow your Brita products to dry out for three days.
  2. Collect at least 5 lbs to recycle. Place everything in a garbage liner or trash bag and pack it in a box.
  3. Print out your shipping label and mail the box.

Are you a Canadian resident? Then you first have to create a TerraCycle account at terracycle.ca and join the Brita Recycling program there. You can download a pre-paid shipping label from your TerraCycle account.

In case you are a PUR customer, you have to join the PUR recycling program.

Then you can start collecting PUR pitchers, dispensers, faucet filtration systems, filters and packaging film. Once you have a full box, send it using the free shipping label available at the TerraCycle website. Again, you have to remember to properly dry everything before wrapping it in a plastic bag or garbage liner.

Did we mention that for each shipment you send in you have the opportunity to earn points that you can donate to an organization of your choice or a TerraCycle product bundle? That’s so cool!

Want to learn more about TerraCycle?

ZeroWater

ZeroWater provides a recycling form that you can complete and return with your filters to:

ZeroWater Filter Recycling
c/o Delta Warehouse
1600 Delta Drive
El Paso, TX 79901

The processing takes up to a couple of weeks. Then you receive a $10 coupon to be redeemed at zerowater.com for every two filters that you return. The coupon is meant to help off-set shipping expenses.

Mavea

Bad news: MAVEA is no longer accepting filters for recycling.

GE Home Appliances

As far as we can tell, GE has stopped their refrigerator filter recycling program as well. Although several third-party sources talk about it online, we couldn’t find any information that confirm that the program is still active.

Recycling Refrigerator Water Filters

If your refrigerator uses a water filter it, too, has to be replaced on a regular basis to guarantee the highest water quality and prevent bacteria from growing inside the cartridge.

Back in 2014, Whirlpool launched their Refresh & Recycle refrigerator water filter recycling program. It offered people to recycle any brand fridge water filter for little money. The bad news is that the program has ended.

What can you do instead? Follow the same process to recycle any other type of water filter:

  1. Contact your filter manufacturer. Ask if they offer a recycling program.
  2. If yes, follow the instructions.
  3. If no, ask what type of plastic was used for the filter shell. You can also look at the shell itself.
  4. Contact your local recycler to find out what type they accept.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise throw in trash.

Conclusion

The ecological footprint of bottled water – recycled or not – is many times larger than that of filtered water. So even if your filter manufacturer does not have a recycling program, you are doing the environment a huge favor. And if you haven’t purchased a filter system just yet or are planning to replace your old one, consider choosing a brand that makes recycling a priority.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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How Does Water Pollution Affect Humans (+ What Can You Do)?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Water pollution can affect us in lots of different ways and on so many levels.

There is groundwater pollution for example that impacts water quality for residents receiving their water from a private well. Then there is ocean pollution that is unsightly – think littering – and contaminates food chains so that pesticides, heavy metals and other harmful contaminants that found their way into the sea will eventually end up on our dinner plates in form of sushi.

This article is about the many faces of water pollution, the effects it has on us as human beings, and the best water filtering solutions.

What Is Water Pollution?

Water pollution occurs when harmful substances (…) contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or (an)other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment.” (Source)

This does not mean, however, that the pollution of a water body is always man-made, although it usually is a result of human activity.

Natural changes in water quality might occur due to

  • Volcanic activity
  • Algae blooms in hot weather
  • Storms
  • Earthquakes

On the other hand we have human-induced water pollution which can be categorized in:

  • Groundwater Pollution – This type of contamination happens when pollutants released into the soil leach into an aquifer. An aquifer is an underground water storehouse so to speak. Its contamination may render an aquifer unusable. The big problem with this is that not only is groundwater the only freshwater source for many people living in rural areas, groundwater also provides 43% of the water used for irrigation in the United States. In other words, chemicals and other harmful substances will likely spread and contaminate other areas of our lives, too.
  • Surface Water Pollution – Lakes, rivers, ponds, wetlands and of course our oceans are different kinds of surface water bodies. The bad news is that 46% of U.S. rivers and streams are in poor condition, according to an EPA assessment from 2008-2009. The biggest issue are elevated phosphorus and nitrogen levels causing algae blooms that lead to oxygen depletion. And it’s the same with our lakes: More than one-third contain excessive levels of phosphorus and nitrogen affecting wildlife as well as public health. Where does all the phosphorus and nitrogen come from? It’s agricultural runoff. Of course, industrial and municipal waste also contribute to the ongoing pollution of our surface waters. What makes the situation even worse is that in many cases groundwater and surface water feed off one another. The pollution of one entity almost always leads to the pollution of the other.
  • Marine Pollution – We’ve all seen pictures of a sea turtle caught in plastic. However, larger debris is only one part of the equation. Ocean pollution that we can’t see with our naked eye is presumably much more serious. Also, what you have to know is that most pollutants come from land. Heavy metals and chemicals for example are carried by our waterways from farms and industrial plants into estuaries and later out to sea.
  • Point Source vs. Non-Point Source Pollution – We can also differentiate between point source and non-point source pollution. As the name suggests, the former originates from a single source such as an oil spill. The latter has more diffuse causes like stormwater runoff where it’s impossible to identify a single culprit which makes regulation much harder.

How Water Pollution Affects Us As Human Beings

How does water pollution affect us as human beings?

First and foremost, it can have a negative impact on our health, obviously. Apart from that, it may cause revulsion – who wants to swim in water full of plastic?

The first aspect is much more severe which is why we are going to discuss it in a bit more detail.

Health Effects

Drinking water alone is estimated to cause 502,000 diarrheal deaths each year. By the way, this does not include mortalities due to other diseases triggered by contaminated drinking water and all types of water in general.

And let’s not forget that polluted water does not have to kill you. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by waterborne parasites that currently ail almost 240 million people worldwide. To get infested, direct skin contact with contaminated water is all it takes.

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Other waterborne pathogens can originate from human and animal waste spreading diseases such as cholera. This not only affects developing countries, but thousands of Americans that come down with Legionnaires’ disease each year.

In addition, many more contaminants that are capable of making you ill have found their way into our supply systems in the past decades. One prominent example for this is the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan which we’ve covered in great depth in our lead water filter guide here. Although there really is no safe level for lead in drinking water, it is being served to hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents each year leading to intellectual impairment in our children.

Another very common chemical pollutant is chlorine used for disinfection. Chlorine itself can not only cause skin rashes and respiratory problems when inhaled in the shower. When reacting with biological waste it forms disinfection byproducts that are associated with an increased risk of cancer and problems during pregnancy.

And there are many more ways how polluted water can compromise our health.

What Can You Do?

There are a couple of measures that you can take to

  1. Protect your family from the health risks posed by contaminated water sources.
  2. Lower your pollution footprint to help tackle the problem at hand head on.

1. Protecting Your Health

What you can do as a health protective measure is filter the water in your home, whether you are on a well or receive tap water doesn’t really matter. Now this is easier said than done which is why we have dedicated a whole website to this topic.

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It all starts with filtering the water that you use for drinking and cooking.

In cases of severe contamination, reverse osmosis and distillation are your best friends. Both technologies provide the cleanest H2O possible with almost 100% purity. However, the purified water will be deprived of all healthy minerals so consider remineralizing your water before consumption.

Regular carbon filtration used by pitcher filters, countertop & under sink systems and faucet mounted units is great for removing chemicals. Earlier on we mentioned chlorine as a water disinfectant that you can eliminate this way.

If you want to learn more about chlorine reduction in tap water or would like to browse a list of top chlorine filters, click here.

What do you do if you want access to filtered water at every outlet in your home? In this case, a whole house water filter system is exactly what you need. It will filter all the water before it gets distributed to your bathrooms and kitchen etc.

This allows you to drink straight from every tap and at the same time enjoy contaminant-free showers.

On a side note, clean water in your entire house will also improve indoor air quality as it prevents volatile substances to evaporate. Another benefit is that some whole home filters can reduce water hardness and thereby increase the lifespan of your home appliances (but that’s for another post).

The downside to whole house water filters are high cost, meaning a high price tag plus expenses for installation if you are not handy with tools and require professional help.

If you want you can check out some of our whole house water filter reviews.

Also, the following table provides an overview of the different types of filters and their uses:

TypeAttributeCost
Reverse Osmosis SystemsHighest Water Purity$$ – $$$
DistillersHighest Water Purity$$ – $$$
Filter PitchersOnly Basic Treatment$
Countertop/Under Sink UnitsWater Safe for Drinking$$
Faucet Mounted FiltersOnly Basic Treatment$
Whole House Filter SystemsFiltered Water At Every Outlet$$$$$
Shower FiltersClean Shower Water$

2. Lowering Your Pollution Footprint

In order to lower your pollution footprint, the first thing you should do is reduce the amount of plastics that you use. Also, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Speaking of water, plastic bottles are one of the worst inventions ever – please stay as far away from them as you can.

What you should also do is dispose of cleaning agents and other hazardous chemicals properly. And in your garden, try to avoid the use of fertilizers, herbicides and the like.

If you have a sewage system, make sure that it functions as intended and remember that paint, thinners and solvents have no place in there.

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Conclusion

Groundwater pollution, surface water pollution, ocean pollution – the way we treat our water sources has to change now, before we pass the point of no return. Otherwise, we won’t be able to live on our planet for much longer.

Considering the severe effects that contaminated water can have on our health, make sure to protect yourself by using one of the treatment solutions listed above if need be.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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Nauseous After Drinking Water? Here Are 6 Reasons Why You Might Feel Sick

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Did you ever feel nauseous or sick after drinking a glass of water?

Have you ever asked yourself why that happens?

Well, there definitely is more than one possible explanation. So if you want to learn more, check out today’s post!

Nausea

Nausea is not painful but it can be highly unpleasant and it often comes with an urge to vomit.

The purpose of nausea is to stop you from repeating whatever caused the discomfort. The physiology behind it has yet to be clarified, however, four pathways in the human body have been identified that can create a sensation of nausea or vomiting:

  • Stimulation of the Central Nervous System (CNS) – Stimulation of the CNS can occur due to elevated intracranial pressure, irritation of the meninges (i.e. blood or infection), and extreme emotional triggers such as anxiety.
  • Activation of the Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone – Located in our brain outside the blood-brain barrier, the chemoreceptor trigger zone is readily exposed to substances such as toxins and medications circulating through our blood.
  • Triggering of the Peripheral Pathways – Triggered in the gastrointestinal tract and other organs, this could be a sign for toxins present in the gastrointestinal lumen. Other possible activators are distension of the gastrointestinal lumen from blockage or dysmotility of the bowels.
  • Disturbances to the Vestibular System – Disturbances to the vestibular system in the inner ear can originate from movements causing motion sickness and dizziness.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausea

Simply put, nausea is a non-specific symptom.

Reasons for Nausea After Drinking Water

Even finding the reason why you are feeling dizzy or like throwing up right after drinking plain water is like making a diagnosis for tiredness – there’s more than one possible explanation. One thing is for certain: Typically, drinking water should not cause nausea.

drinking glass

That being said, the following is a list of reasons that come into question.

1. A Full Stomach

It’s almost too simple, right? A full stomach is the most likely cause why you are feeling sick. Especially after you had a rich meal you should not try to force water into your stomach on top.

What’s more, your stomach might have difficulties emptying. Therefore, avoid drinking large amounts of water at once. Give your stomach time to release fluid into your small intestines before you drink the next cup. For all other questions make sure to consult a physician.

2. Bacteria

The second possible yet unlikely explanation is that you are drinking bacteria contaminated water. You heard right, bacteria are very common even in water supplies in the U.S. The question is are there enough potentially harmful germs to make your water unsafe to drink?

In the great outdoors, water too close to organic fecal waste might be contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms. But even if you are not on a camping trip, chances are that you get in contact with waterborne pathogens at home or in public.

Let’s take giardia as an example, a parasite that colonizes in the small intestines. Giardiasis is the most commonly diagnosed disease caused by intestinal parasites in our country. However, symptoms including nausea and vomiting usually first occur 1-3 weeks after exposure and not immediately afterwards.

Another parasite that can cause nausea among other symptoms such as abdominal cramping is cryptosporidium. Symptoms last anywhere between a few days to two weeks. So if your nausea eases off within a couple of hours, that’s probably a good sign.

By the way, both giardia and cryptosporidium are quite resistant against chlorine used for water disinfection.

Also, the only way for you to find out if you are dealing with bacterial contamination is through testing. You can either send a direct sample to an accredited laboratory or buy a test kit and do the analysis yourself.

We Recommend: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher

  • Removes 230+ Contaminants (More Than Any Other Water Filter Pitcher)
  • Eliminates 99.9% Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Antimony, Cadmium, Pesticides, MTBE
  • NSF Certifications: Standards 42, 53, 244, 401 & 473
  • Low Maintenance Due to Long-Lasting Filters
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee (Risk-Free)
  • → Read Full Clearly Filtered Review Here

In case your water tests positive consider using the Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher to filter your drinking water. It’s certified by independent third-party labs to meet NSF requirements for the reduction of cryptosporidium and giardia.

3. Algae Outbreaks

Hot weather in combination with rain and chemicals from sewage treatment plants or agricultural runoff can lead to toxic algae blooms in lakes and rivers feeding our municipal water systems. The result: Poisoned drinking water.

Short-term exposures – via ingestion or skin contact – have been linked to sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and liver damage. And it was found that algae outbreaks are growing at an alarming rate. Back in 2010, the number of reported outbreaks was 3.  In 2017, there were 169.

The only good news is that not all algae outbreaks produce toxins.

4. Antimony & Cadmium

Antimony and cadmium are metalloids or transition metals that may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in dosages above EPA drinking water limits.

The federal legal limit for antimony is 6 parts per billion (ppb) whereas the recommended health guideline defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is 1 ppb.

For cadmium the enforceable federal standard that defines the highest level allowed in drinking water is 5 ppb. Current OEHHA guidelines are 0.04 ppb – that’s 125 times less.

On a side note: According to the EWG Tap Water Database, the utility with the highest water cadmium concentration in the year 2015 was the Garden Acres Mobile Home Park in Calabasas, OK with an average level of 13.7 ppb. That’s more than twice the legal limit. Second place went to the Crown King Water Company based in Glendale, AZ with 8.49 ppb.

For antimony, 2015 samples taken from the Quail Valley Water Dist-westside System in Tehachapi, CA contained an average of 11.3 ppb securing first place. Next came the Hanson Water Department in Hanson, MA with 9.00 ppb. Congratulations!

5. Pesticides

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide that can trigger nausea, headaches and dizziness in low dosages. It obviously originates from agriculture as one of the main contributors to the pollution of our drinking water.

tractor spraying pesticides

In August 2018, the U.S. 9th Circuit court of Appeals ruled that the EPA must ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days from that date.

6. MTBE

Between the years 2010 and 2015, MTBE, a toxic byproduct of petroleum refining, was served in form of contaminated tap water to literally millions of Americans. Its foul odor makes water undrinkable. Fortunately, health guidelines were not exceeded.

What’s shocking is that there currently doesn’t even exist a national drinking water standard.

Another issue with MTBE is that it migrates through groundwater and does not degrade easily. This has lead to extensive contamination of groundwater across the U.S., even forcing a number of public water providers to close drinking water wells.

Apart from nausea, MTBE has also been linked to dizziness, headaches and disorientation. It is absorbed rapidly by our intestines.

We Recommend: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher

  • Removes 230+ Contaminants (More Than Any Other Water Filter Pitcher)
  • Eliminates 99.9% Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Antimony, Cadmium, Pesticides, MTBE
  • NSF Certifications: Standards 42, 53, 244, 401 & 473
  • Low Maintenance Due to Long-Lasting Filters
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee (Risk-Free)
  • → Read Full Clearly Filtered Review Here

It Does Not Have to Be Serious (But It May)

The most likely reason why you are feeling dizzy or nauseous after drinking plain water is because your stomach is too full. This is by no means a serious issue you have to worry about. Next time, simply give your stomach more time to empty before taking the next sip.

If that doesn’t help, it’s best if you approach a doctor. You might also want to consider having your water tested for impurities such as microorganisms or chemicals to rule out a possible contamination. If your water tests positive, either stick to bottled water or use a drinking water filter.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Fluoride Detox Thumb

Fluoride Detox: How to Remove the Toxin from Your Body (100% Science-Based)

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Fluoride is a known neurotoxin with severe health effects, but it is still being added to our water supplies all across the country.

And fluoridated tap water is only the tip of the iceberg. Excessive fluoride can be found in many foods, toothpaste, cookware, medications…

If you can no longer tolerate this situation, this post will help you with 2 things:

  • 1. It will tell you how to flush the fluoride from your body that has already accumulated.
  • 2. You will learn how to reduce your overall fluoride exposure and avoid it in the first place.

All statements are research-based and backed by real studies. No mumbo jumbo, no distortion of the facts. Ready? Let’s go!

What You Will Learn…

Fluoride in Our Bodies

Does fluoride accumulate in the human body? And if so, where is it stored and for how long?

Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water, and eating foods rich in fluoride are just 3 of a multitude of factors that determine how much of the neurotoxin you ingest on a daily basis.

An oversupply of fluoride can lead to serious health issues including:

  • Skeletal fluorosis
  • Muscle disorders
  • Impaired thyroid function
  • Bone cancer
  • Cell death[1]

The neurotoxin has even been linked to causing a decline in cognitive abilities.[2]

About half of the fluoride that your body absorbs gets stored in your body tissue. Usually, the remaining 50% is flushed out via urine within 24 hours provided that you have healthy and properly functioning kidneys.[3,4,5]

However, how well the urine excretion works and the extent to which absorbed fluoride is retained in your body also depends on your urine’s pH level (and under some conditions flow rate). More acid urine means an increase in fluoride retention.[6]

As a result, direct influencing factors for fluoride urine excretion are

  • your diet,
  • drug use,
  • and metabolic as well as respiratory disorders.[7]

The vast majority of fluoride that your body stores – 99% to be precise – accumulates in calcified tissue, meaning your bones and teeth.[3] The remaining 1% ends up in soft tissues, which includes your brain and more importantly the pineal gland (more on this below).

tooth bone

In bones, fluoride binds to calcium phosphate compounds. Over a whole lifetime, relatively high levels of fluoride can deposit in your skeleton this way, which may result in joint pain and stiffness sometimes confused with arthritis.[8]

The good news is that this process is reversible, as fluoride can be mobilized through bone remodeling.[3] The less fluoride is already stored in your skeleton, the better.[5]

FYI: Bone remodeling is a “process where mature bone tissue is removed from the skeleton (…) and new bone tissue is formed“. (Wikipedia) In adults, about 10% of the entire bone structure is remodeled  within one year.[9]

Fluoride and the Pineal Gland

A study conducted by the University College of Sciences (Osmania University) in Hyderabad, India has shown that an increase in the concentration of sodium fluoride in drinking water fed to rats directly led to an increase of fluoride deposition in their brain tissue.[10]

But even more affected by fluoride overload than our brain is a tiny organ called pineal gland. The pineal gland sits between the two hemispheres of your brain completely unprotected by the blood-brain barrier. Its task is to produce and secrete melatonin, for example to promote sleep.

Pineal Gland

Due to the fact that the pineal gland has a rich blood supply and is a calcifying tissue, it too can accumulate fluoride. In fact, researchers have found higher fluoride-to-calcium concentrations in the pineal glands of fluorosis patients that had died in old age, than concentrations found in their bones.[11]

Calcification of the pineal gland as a consequence of ingesting too much fluoride can lead to poor melatonin production over time,  a possible cause for sleep disorders, fatigue and depressions.

How to Detox from Fluoride

Now that we know why it’s important to get fluoride out of our bodies, the question remains how to remove it.

Watch Your Diet

As mentioned above, the retention of fluoride in your body is dependent on the pH level of your urine. Higher acidity results in less fluoride being flushed out of the system. And because your diet has the biggest influence on your body’s acid-base balance, you have to make it a priority to eat more alkaline than acidic foods – at least most of the time.

What are alkaline foods? All sorts of vegetables, most raw fruits (not juices), some beans & nuts, and most oils. What you should try stay away from is too much coffee and black tea, meat, fish, eggs, syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and alcohol.

As a general rule, it’s probably easiest if you prefer raw over processed foods.

Exercise

It’s funny: While daily exercising may reduce the negative effects of too much fluoride intake on blood sugar regulation[12], acute and overly intense training seems to result in a rise of fluoride concentration in blood and simultaneously a decline in renal clearance and urinary excretion.[13]

What does this mean for your fluoride detox?

  1. Regular work outs are helpful.
  2. Going too intense might be detrimental.

woman jogging

Supplements

In the context of fluoride detox, a number of supplements are supposed to boost urine excretion. The following is a complete list of those that are scientifically proven to  work.

Boron (Borax)

The element boron has shown to help with skeletal fluorosis[14] and is essential for healthy bones and joints.[15]

According to research, ingesting 5-6 mg per day is the optimum amount for arthritis prevention even in old age.[16]

It can be found in many organically grown foods including all sorts of nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, grapes, apricots, prunes, dates, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Now, some people might prefer to supplement their diet to ensure sufficient daily boron intake. One of the most popular supplements: Borax, a rare but naturally occurring mineral that contains boron and acts as a defluoridating agent that leaches fluoride from your body.[14]

Of course, most people know borax as a multipurpose cleaner and detergent booster. Multiple online sources say that you could simply mix between 1/32 to 1/4 teaspoon of pure borax with a quarter gallon (1 liter) of water and sip that cocktail in small portions throughout the day. A pinch of sea salt is supposed to bring even better results.

However, we want to distance ourselves from these claims, not because we believe that borax won’t help with fluoride detoxification, BUT…

  • we do not want to make false statements about the purity of any random borax product taken from the supermarket shelf. Not all of them are of food-grade quality.
  • in the borax study, test subjects were treated with 300 to 1,100 mg of borax per day for a period of 3 months with good results. However, the scientists also concluded that “Additional studies are necessary to (…) determine whether high doses of borax can be administered to humans over an extended period without causing subtle adverse effects to liver and kidneys“. (Source)
  • The FDA has declared borax illegal for use in foods.[17] The European Chemical Agency has classified the mineral as reprotoxic.[18]

What happens if you suffer from a boron overdose?

In excess, boron can have harmful effects as it inhibits a number of enzymatic activities in the human organism. How much is too much? According to research, negative side effects can start to occur in the lower gram range, which is many, many times more than what you can ingest with a normal diet – even if you add a supplement.[16]

Tamarind

Too much fluoride can cause metabolic disorders.[19,20] So it’s good that in a 2012 study, scientists found that tamarind leaf powder helped to restore carbohydrate, lipid and antioxidant metabolism in rats that were exposed to high levels of fluoride in drinking water.[21]

Another study – this time with humans – has shown that tamarind intake (10g daily) leads to a significant increase in fluoride excretion via urine.[22]

tamarind

Tamarind has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for ages. Pulp, bark, seeds, fruits and leaves can be turned into teas, powders & spices, extracts and tinctures.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin is what gives the spice turmeric its yellowish color. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.

What’s more, when ingested in high enough dosages it seems to have a neuroprotective effect. In an experiment with mice, curcumin supplementation has shown to significantly reduce the toxicity of fluoride and its brain-damaging effects.[23]

Other studies have shown that curcumin treatment is likely to protect your kidneys from harm caused by fluoride overload and prevent genotoxic effects, meaning damage caused to your genetic material such as DNA. Damaged genetic material is what leads to mutations and possibly cancer.[24,25]

Our recommendation: Add raw turmeric or turmeric/curcumin powder to your meals, juices and smoothies.

Iodine

Iodine is highly important for our bodies. It plays a major role in cell metabolism and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Supplementation with iodine clearly results in increased urinary excretion of fluoride.[26].

What’s more, fluoride in drinking water is less toxic when accompanied with sufficient iodine intake.[27]

At the same time, you want to watch out because too much iodine can do more harm than good. Especially those with a pre-existing thyroid disease have an increased risk of developing a thyroid dysfunction. The same goes for the elderly, babies and fetuses.[28]

All in all, the recommended daily amount of iodine intake for adults is 150 μg.

If you struggle with reaching this threshold, consider adding more sea fish and sea vegetables – think kelp or wakame – to your diet. Other iodine-rich foods are eggs, beans and potatoes. As a last resort, check out iodine supplements which are widely available and relatively inexpensive.

kelp

Vitamin C

A study with fluorosis patients suggests that, even in excessive dosages, vitamin C has no influence on urinary fluoride excretion.[29]

However, similar to curcumin, vitamin C might help to prevent your kidneys from being harmed by too much fluoride intake.[24]

The best natural vitamin C sources? Try acerola, kale, kiwis, broccoli, lemons, …

Selenium + Zinc

In an animal study, selenium has proven to be an “antidote agent against fluorosis” protecting the brain of mice against the adverse effects of sodium fluoride in their drinking water.[30]

What’s more, a second study has shown that supplementing rats exposed to fluoridated drinking water with a combination of zinc sulfate and sodium selenite (contains selenium) could counteract kidney damage.

Interestingly enough, the two antioxidants are more effective when administered together than alone.[31]

Great sources for selenium are brazil nuts and more or less all sorts of sea fish and meat.

Zinc can also be found in meat, fish and nuts and in addition to that seeds.

Calcium + Magnesium

Typically between 70 to 90% of the fluoride that you ingest is absorbed in your intestines. The exact percentage depends on the form of fluoride. For highly soluble sodium fluoride, almost 100% is absorbed.

The good news is that you can reduce this percentage by adding more calcium and magnesium to your diet[32,33]. Lower calcium and magnesium intake results in enhanced fluoride absorption.

Where to find magnesium and calcium? Avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, bananas and leafy greens.

avocado

Chelation Therapy?

The goal of a chelation therapy is the detoxification of heavy metals. Fluoride, however, is a salt. Whether or not chelation has any impact on fluoride content in the body, we do not know. We couldn’t find any scientific research for or against it.

Liver Cleanse?

One of the many functions of the liver is to break down toxic substances. It is the most important organ for the detoxification of our bodies. Still, if so called “liver cleanses” really help with fluoride detox remains to be proven.

Saunas?

Dry Saunas are supposed to release sodium fluoride stored in fatty tissues. But according to our research, there is no such thing as fluoride in fatty tissue, so…

Detox Side Effects

Many online sources say that detoxing from fluoride can cause symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness. Of course, they might speak from personal experience. At least we couldn’t find any scientific data to support these claims.

Nonetheless, it makes perfect sense to drink plenty of unfluoridated water while detoxing to ensure that all excessive fluoride can be flushed out.

How to Avoid Fluoride In the First Place

Even better than detoxing is to reduce your exposure to fluoride to a minimum to stop it from accumulating in your bones, teeth and brain over time.

Here are our 7 tips for how to avoid fluoride in the first place:

1. Drink Non-Fluoridated Water Only

This one is the most obvious of course. You want to stay away from fluoridated water, which includes most tap water and also some bottled water (even some spring water brands).

To find out if your tap water is enriched with fluoride, follow this link and choose your state from the dropdown menu and hit “GO” (or click on the map).

Please note: Unfortunately, not all states participate in the database. If that’s the case for your state, it’s best to contact your provider directly and ask about fluoride.

Fluoride Map

On the next page, choose the county you live in and look for your supply system in the table.

CDC MWF Alabama Autauga County

In the second column it says “Fluoridated” – “Yes” or “No”. If it says “No”, at least you don’t have to worry about added fluoride!

If it says “Yes”, click on the name of the system to further check how much is added. Oftentimes that’s 0.70 mg/L – the minimum amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recommended maximum is 1.2 mg/L.[34]

Fluoride Concentration Chart

Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater. That’s why we recommend you take this one step further and also check your water supply system for natural fluoride content. How can you do that?

Either use the EWG’s Tap Water Database or contact your supplier directly and ask for the latest water quality report, which by the way are always free!

In case you are on well water, you have to take a direct sample and have it tested by a professional lab.

EWG's Tap Water Database

No fluoride is added to your water and none was found in recent tests? Great! It looks like you can drink straight from the tap without having to worry about the neurotoxin. But remember that it’s still possible that there are other harmful contaminants lurking in your water!

You receive fluoridated tap water or there’s natural fluoride contained in it? Then you have a couple of options going forward:

  • You apply a specialized water filter. Why specialized? Because regular water filters based on activated carbon medium are completely ineffective against fluoride, such as Brita and PUR filter pitchers. Most reverse osmosis filter systems remove at least 95% F. Another option are filters working with activated alumina or anion exchange resin. Your last option is to use a water distiller. You can learn more about each filter type in our Guide: How to Remove Fluoride from Water.
  • You opt for purified, non-fluoridated bottled water, which you should find in every grocery store. Look out for labels that say “distilled water” or “purified by reverse osmosis“. In case fluoride was added to the water, it must be declared on the label[35]. The problem with bottled water, however, is that just like plain tap water, it might contain harmful impurities other than fluoride.

2. Eat Unprocessed Organic Foods

Reducing the amount of fluoride you ingest on a daily basis by choosing fluoride-free drinking water is one part of the equation. In addition, there are other simple steps you can take to reduce your overall exposure in everyday life significantly. One of them is eating organic.

Why does eating organic make a difference? Because pesticides and insecticides used in conventional agriculture oftentimes contain fluoride, such as the mineral cryolite.[36] This is how these substances can end up on our dinner plates[37] – or glasses in the case of wine.[38]

wine pesticides

On top of that, processed food is more likely to contain fluoride in general. This likelihood increases with every processing step.

One the one hand, this has to do with the potential use of fluoridated water (and salt) when producing bread, infant formula, fruit juice, soy milk and beer for example.

On the other hand, fluoride is often used to preserve canned food. You should also avoid food containing mechanically separated chicken (MSC). MSC is often high in fluoride, which has to do with the separation process that often results in bone particles in the final product. These bone particles are the fluoride source.[39]

MSC is one of the ingredients in some infant foods, toddler foods and canned meats.

By the way, if you’ve had enough of vegetable salad for this week, at least make sure to carefully read the label of any processed food you pick. What does the ingredient list say?

Also, you can find a list of processed foods highest in fluoride here.

Lastly, always use regular instead of fluoridated salt.

3. Reduce Green & Black Tea + Coffee

Green and black tea almost always contain high amounts of fluoride, so you shouldn’t drink too much of it.[40,41]

The same goes for some species of coffee.[42]

4. Use Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

Don’t buy fluoridated toothpaste especially when you have small kids. Our little ones don’t have a well-developed swallowing reflex yet. They tend to swallow a lot of toothpaste while brushing.[43] Of course, the same applies to gels, mouthwashes and other dental products.

As an alternative, you can brush with fluoride-free toothpaste, sea salt, tooth powder made from herbs, or toothpaste soap.

fluoridated toothpaste

You also should not get a fluoride get treatment at your dentist. The gel contains extremely high amounts of fluoride.

5. Don’t Use Teflon Coated Cookware

Avoid pans, pots and other cookware with Teflon coatings. Teflon contains fluoride which has shown to leach into water during cooking, but also when used for storage.[44]

6. Try to Avoid Medications Containing Fluoride

Make sure that medications you take are free from fluoride. If not, you can always ask your physician for a suitable alternative. You can find an index of fluorinated pharmaceuticals here.

7. Showering & Bathing?

When showering or bathing, can your body absorb fluoride via the skin or through inhaling? Truth be told, we don’t know.

What we know is that fluoride is not as volatile as chlorine meaning that at least you won’t inhale as much of it.

Still, if this is something that’s bothering you, the best solution is to buy a shower or whole house fluoride water filter, which you can learn more about here.

Detox FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the detox take?

That differs from one person to another and is impossible to predict. Theoretically speaking, it depends on how much fluoride has accumulated in your body over the years. If you really want to know, you’d have to measure how much fluoride is contained in your urine. Once you see a drop, all redundant fluoride might have left you body – but that’s just a theory!

Is it safe to detox while being pregnant?

We really don’t know. Adding some curcumin or tamarind to your diet probably won’t hurt, but definitely see your doctor before you make any radical changes.

How long to detox before pregnancy?

Again, it’s most likely that this depends on how much superfluous fluoride is stored in your body. The more there is, the longer the detox is going to take. But what’s more important is that you avoid too much fluoride exposure while you are pregnant. Studies have shown that the placenta not only accumulates fluoride[48], it also allows rapid diffusion of fluoride from mother to fetus and does not act as a barrier.[45][46][47]

Does cinnamon detox fluoride from my body?

Not that we know of.

Does vitamin c in bathwater help to detox fluoride?

As far as we know, your skin can’t absorb vitamin C, so the answer is no.

Does alkaline water benefit fluoride detoxification?

It might be possible. What we know for sure is that fluoride excretion works best when urine is only mildly acidic. The higher the acidity, the more fluoride is retained in your body. (See above)

Can you defluoridate water using Tulsi (holy basil)?

No idea. There are studies saying that tulsi is an effective fluoride absorbent.[49] Other research suggests the opposite.[50]

References

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If you found this article helpful, please share it with your family and friends, so they get the chance to learn how to do a proper fluoride detox, too. And if you have any questions or comments, please share them below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Radioactive Contamination Thumbnail

One Reason To Filter Your Water? We Give You 170 Million!

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Newsflash: 170 Million U.S. residents drink radioactive tap water day by day.

No, this is not a joke. It’s a serious issue which we finally have to pay attention to, as the government fails to do so. In this post you will learn all you need to know about the dangers of radioactive elements in our drinking water, how they end up there, and what you can do to protect the health of your family.

What Radioactive Elements Can Be Found In U.S. Tap Water and What Risk Do They Pose?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) counted a total of 6 different radioactive elements that can most commonly be found in U.S. tap water. These are:

  • Radium-226
  • Radium-288
  • Radon
  • Uranium
  • Tritium
  • Strontium-90

By far the most widespread are two isotopes of radium known as radium-226 and radium-228, which contaminate tap water in every state.” (Source)

Between the years 2010 and 2015, radium was reportedly found in concentrations exceeding federal drinking water standards and therefore legal limits  in more than 150 public water systems serving a total of 276,000 Americans in 27 different states all across the country.

What’s even worse: These federal legal limits are based on outdated research and primarily designed for cost and feasibility of removing specific contaminants, rather than focusing on what’s necessary in order to fully protect human health.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of tap water safety in our country, allows a maximum of 5 pCi/L (picocuries per liter) of combined radium-226 and radium-228. The federal legal limit for uranium is 30 parts per billion or 20 pCi/L.

FYI: Picocuries per liter is a measure of radioactivity in water.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment – these guys actually rely on up-to-date scientific research – set the public health goal for radium-226 to 0.019 pCi/L and for radium-228 to 0.05 pCi/L. This is more than 72 lowers than the current federal standard. The health goal for uranium is 0.43 pCi/L.

At these concentrations, 1 million people could drink contaminated water every single day for 70 years straight and only a single person would be expected to develop cancer as a result of that exposure.

Speaking of cancer, here are the 6 radioactive elements from above and the primary health risks they are associated with:

Radioactive ElementPrimary Health RiskHealth GoalFederal StandardCancer Risk at Legal Limit

Radioactive ElementPrimary Health RiskHealth GoalFederal StandardCancer Risk at Legal Limit
Radium-226Bone Cancer + Other Cancers0.019 pCi/L5 pCi/L (Radium-226 & Radium-228 Combined)7 Cases Per 100,000 People
Radium-228Bone Cancer + Other Cancers0.05 pCi/L5 pCi/L (Radium-226 & Radium-228 Combined)7 Cases Per 100,000 People
RadonLung Cancer (Inhalation)1.5 pCi/L300 pCi/L (Advisory Level, No Established Requirement)
UraniumKidney Damage, Cancer0.43 pCi/L30 ppb4.6 Cases Per 100,000 People
TritiumCancer400 pCi/L20,000 pCi/L5 Cases Per 100,000 People
Strontium-90Bone Cancer, Leukemia0.35 pCi/L8 pCi/L2 Cases Per 100,000 People

From: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/reviewed-radiological.php

As you can see, these substances are NOT to be taken lightly. All of them are classified as carcinogenic by the EPA. And although the statistical cancer risk decreases with lower doses of ionizing radiation, a small probability always remains.

In addition, ionizing radiation also affects developing fetus. At high dosages – higher than typically found in our tap waters – radiation can impair fetal growth, cause birth defects and damage brain development, says the EWG.

On top of that, latest research has shown that radiation can cause damage to both the human nervous system and immune system.

Are You Affected?

EWG’s Tap Water Database is a collection of water quality reports for samples of treated tap water taken from public supply systems in all 50 states between 2010 and 2015.

It shows that California is ranking #1 as the state with the most people served with water contaminated with radium-226 & 288 combined. How many? 25,814,100. Texas is the state with the most water utilities affected: 3,478.

How can you find out if you were/are affected, too? The easiest way is to visit this page and enter your zip code and hit ‘GO’.

Entering ZIP Code In EWG Database

Then choose your utility from the list.

Choosing Water Utility From List

If you scroll down a bit, you can see the contaminants detected above health guidelines and also all other contaminants in amounts deemed safe.

List of detected contaminants

Looks like the people receiving water from the New York City System are lucky – zero radioactive elements detected above guidelines.

For combined radium-226 and 288 contamination in particular, you can also use this interactive map titled “Radium Contamination in Public Water Supplies Nationwide” that the EWG published earlier this year.

EWG Radium Map USA

The map displays data on radium contamination for 1,850 community water systems serving more than 10,000 people as well as 1,620 systems serving between 3,301 and 10,000 people.

Beige dots indicate locations with radium levels less than 1 pCi/L. Orange dots cover the range between 1.0 and 4.99 pCi/L. Levels above 5 pCi/L are marked in red. Dot size does not indicate cases of more severe contamination, but larger system size. Large dots represent systems serving more than 100,000 customers. Small ones are for utilities with less than 100,000 customers.

Please note: The map does not include supply systems without reported radium content, so if you can’t find your water utility, there’s no reason to worry.

To use the map, simply type your address into the search bar in the top right corner. Then you can click on the dot for your supply system.

Yonkers City Supply System Example

How Does Radium & Co. Enter Our Water Supply?

For a change, it’s not entirely our fault that radioactive elements end up in our water systems. They naturally occur in rock and soil deposits as part of the earth’s crust and slowly leech into the groundwater from where they continue their journey into our supply systems.

The trickling effect, however, can be higher in areas where gas and oil drilling, fracking, or (uranium) mining unearth these elements.

How You Can Protect Your Family

What can you do to protect your family and yourself from dangerous radioactive elements?

  1. First of all, check if there was radioactivity detected in your water utility with the help of the EWG Tap Water Database. If you can’t find your supplier, contact him directly and ask for recent water quality reports. In case you are on well water, get in touch with your health department. These guys should be able to provide you with information regarding incidences of radioactivity in other wells in your area. If some were tested positive, get your well tested, too.
  2. If too many radioactive elements are present, we recommend you add a water filter to your home. What’s important here is that you look out for certifications for the type of radioactivity you are facing. In general, activated carbon filters are best for radon and strontium removal, while reverse osmosis exceeds at uranium elimination. Also, the greatest level of exposure for radon and tritium is the hot water you use for showering and bathing. Only a whole house filter system can help in that case.
  3. In some regions, more radon can be found in rock and soil. This leads to an increased exposure from indoor air. Fortunately, a multi-day air sampler can detect high levels of radon in your home. If the test turns out positive – or shall I say negative – installing an air mitigation system provides the best solution.

Huge Problem, Simple Solution

Radioactive tap water is a huge problem. However, the solution is quite simple: Check your water quality report, have you water tested if need be, and use a water filter system accordingly. But of course the most important step is to acknowledge the problem in the first place…

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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Infographic: The Current State of U.S. Public Tap Water

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Gene which has been an important member of the BOS team for many years has put a lot of effort into creating the following infographic. It’s titled ‘The Current State Of U.S. Public Tap Water’.

The graphic tells you what tap water contaminants can be found in which regions of our country. Furthermore, it lists all harmful substances that were found in concentrations exceeding legal limits and how they can affect your health.

All data was gathered from the free Tap Water Database of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The database provides more than 30 million test results for nearly 50,000 water utilities in all 50 states of the U.S. and Washington, D.C.

Water samples were tested for 502 different contaminants. A total of 267 were found. More than 160 of them are currently unregulated by a nationwide drinking water standard.

Infographic About U.S. Tap Water by best-osmosis-systems.com

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

King Of Home Water Purification

Contest: Common Home Drinking Water Treatment Technologies Compared

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

In today’s blog post, we are going to start a contest and compare the most common home drinking water treatment technologies to one another. Thereby, we are going to rate each technology from 1 to 5 stars in the following categories:

  1. Provided Degree of Water Purity
  2. Required Time for Purification
  3. Amount of Water Wasted
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Overall Rating

Furthermore, we will also weigh in important advantages and disadvantages and in the end hopefully be able to pronounce a clear winner.

Common Home Drinking Water Treatment Technologies

Reverse Osmosis

Since this website is called best-osmosis-systems.com, we are going to start, of course, with taking a quick look at reverse osmosis filtration.

RO systems have the advantage that they not only apply a semipermeable membrane for the reverse osmosis process, they also come with additional pre and post-filters.

First of all and most importantly, reverse osmosis systems provide exceptionally pure water. According to manufacturers, the average model is able to remove between 98 and 99% of all impurities including larger particles, organic molecules and most viruses.

Reverse Osmosis Process Diagram

Depending on water pressure, the filtration process is fast. Also, most systems come with a storage tank so you don’t have to wait for purified water being produced on demand.

About 3 to 5 gallons of water are wasted for every gallon of filtered water, if you are not using a booster pump. Compared to other technologies, RO systems aren’t performing quite as well here. Then again, in terms of energy efficiency, they can’t be beaten, as they rely on water pressure alone and don’t require a power source.

  1. Provided Degree of Water Purity – 5 Stars
  2. Required Time for Purification – 4.5 Stars
  3. Amount of Water Wasted – 2.5 Stars
  4. Energy Efficiency – 5 Stars
  5. Overall Rating – 4.5 Stars

Distillation

Next, we are going to take a look at water distillation systems. Distillers heat water to the boiling point and collect the condensed vapor that has left almost 100% of all contaminants behind. They are very effective in

  • eliminating protozoa (e.g. Cryptosporidium, Giardia),
  • eliminating bacteria (e.g. Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli),
  • eliminating viruses (e.g. Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus)

and also remove organic and inorganic contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, nitrate and sulfate (source).

2 obvious drawbacks of distillers are their lengthy purification process – you have to wait for hours to get enough clean water – and the high amount of energy that’s needed for boiling. On the other hand, wastewater production is close to zero!

  1. Provided Degree of Water Purity – 5 Stars
  2. Required Time for Purification – 2.5 Stars
  3. Amount of Water Wasted – 5 Stars
  4. Energy Efficiency – 2 Stars
  5. Overall Rating – 3.5 Stars

UV Light Treatment

As the name suggests, UV light treatment systems use ultraviolet light to disinfect water. They have a very high effectiveness in

  • killing protozoa (e.g. Cryptosporidium, Giardia),
  • killing bacteria (e.g. Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli)

and a high effectiveness in

  • killing viruses (e.g. Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus).

UV lamp

Their only drawback: They don’t remove any substances from water at all. They reduce neither chemical content, nor heavy metals or salts etc.

The time that a UV treatment system requires for disinfection is a mere seconds. Plus no water is being wasted during the process and the energy efficiency is good.

  1. Provided Degree of Water Purity – 2 Stars
  2. Required Time for Purification – 5 Stars
  3. Amount of Water Wasted – 5 Stars
  4. Energy Efficiency – 4 Stars
  5. Overall Rating – 4 Stars

Micro, Ultra & Nanofiltration

The chart below shows pore size and effectiveness (E) in removing protozoa, bacteria, viruses and chemicals for micro, ultra and nanofiltration.

Pore SizeE Removing ProtozoaE Removing BacteriaE Removing VirusesE Removing Chemicals
Microfilt.0.05 – 5 micronVery highModerateNoneNone
Ultrafilt.0.001 – 0.05 micronVery highVery highModerateLow
Nanofilt.0.008 – 0.01 micronVery highVery highVery highModerate

As the chart shows, neither microfiltration and ultrafiltration nor nanofiltration are really suited for removing chemicals out of our drinking water. Above that, microfiltration is not suited for removing bacteria and viruses either.

Ultrafiltration is very effective in removing bacteria from water, but only moderately effective in removing viruses. Nanofiltration is the only technology that is able to filter out both bacteria and viruses to provide water safe for human consumption.

As far as purification speed is concerned, it’s not really possible to determine how long it takes to treat water by micro, ultra or nanofiltration – there are different ways to apply the technology. The same goes for energy efficiency. On the upside, little to no water is wasted.

  1. Provided Degree of Water Purity – 4.0 Stars
  2. Required Time for Purification – ?
  3. Amount of Water Wasted – 5 Stars
  4. Energy Efficiency – ?
  5. Overall Rating – ?

Water Softening

It’s quite simple: Commercial water softeners are neither intended nor suited for the production of drinking water. Their sole purpose is to reduce hardness to protect your household appliances and plumbing system from clogging.

Our Winner: Reverse Osmosis

trophy

And the winner of our contest for the best home drinking water treatment technology is… Reverse Osmosis – congratulations!

Reverse osmosis provides very clean water with no need for an extra power source. The filtration process is quick and most systems come with a tank to store water for later use. The only drawback is that during the treatment process a lot of water is being wasted.

By the way, other treatment technologies can be used in conjunction with reverse osmosis to achieve even higher water purity levels. Right now, a combination of reverse osmosis with carbon pre-filters + UV-light treatment is the best the industry has to offer.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Water Facts Thumbnail

10 Interesting Facts About Water that You Didn’t Know

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Nothing New?

Water is everywhere and we cannot live without it. The human body might still be able function if it has been deprived of food for weeks, even months. But try to go the that same time without water. You don’t stand a chance. There is no way that you are going to survive this – if you were massively overweight you could survive a couple of weeks, but that’s about it.

Now this is all common sense and it’s nothing new to you. And since our blog articles are supposed to be entertaining and at the same time educational, we compiled a list of 10 interesting facts about water that we’re convinced you didn’t know yet (at least not all of them).

Are you hooked? Good!

10 Interesting Facts About Water that You Didn’t Know

1. Daily Fluid Intake

Although your daily fluid intake should be around 6-8 glasses of water, give or take, you do not need to consume all of it in pure liquid form. In fact, the larger part of the water that you ingest comes from the food you eat.

plastic water bottle

Of course, this also depends on your diet, which is why it’s important to eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Sweets, fast food and too much meat can leech water from your body.

2. Water Intoxication

You may have heard of water intoxication (hyperhydration). But not all people can imagine that too much water consumed in a short period of time can lead to an imbalance of your body’s fluid and salt levels and ultimately to various physiological symptoms such as strokes, coma and in severe cases death.

What’s happening in your body is that the water overdose causes a dilution of salt and electrolytes so they are no longer working properly. This influences the functioning of your kidneys for example, which then causes physical problems that you can actually feel.

We are not allowed and don’t want to give any medical advice, but make sure to not drink too much water at once, even after exercising.

3. Water Usage

The average American uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day.

  • Bathing accounts for 36 gallons per tub on average.
  • Showering accounts for 2.0-2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Brushing teeth and washing your face and hands is another 1-2 gallons per minute.
  • A dishwasher uses 6-16 gallons per load. Washing machines 25-40 gallons.
  • And finally, 1.6 to 3 gallons of water go down the drain each time you flush a toilet.

4. Where To Get It From

Around 80% of the world’s population receives water from public facilities. This also applies to people living in the United States. The remaining 15% of people supply themselves using wells or boreholes among other water sources.

5. Only 30% Usable

There is an incredible amount of water to be found on our planet, but we can only use about three tenth of it for both domestic and industrial appliances. The remaining 70% are mostly sea water.

By the way, the largest chunk of fresh water is used in the States, where it’s mainly drawn from freshwater lakes, aquifers and rivers.

6. Agriculture Is Water-Hungry

Almost 75% of the world’s fresh water supplies are used to produce food. This includes growing crops and for the biggest part producing meat. In other words, everything that we eat has an impact on our water resources.

Funnily enough, nearly all manufacturing processes require at least some water. So things like electronics, pharmaceuticals and cars have an impact, as well.

7. Water Consumption in America

People living in the United States consume 127% more water now, than they used to in 1950. Unfortunately, about 95% of the water entering their homes goes straight down the drain.

This is why a campaign was started to encourage people to try to use no more than 13 gallons of water per day. Although this seems difficult to achieve, it’s definitely not impossible.

8. 1% For Drinking

Believe it or not, only 1% of all water on our planet can be drunk. The other 97% is either too salty or not safe for consumption, while the remaining 2% is stored in ice and glaciers.

Glacier

9. New From Old

There is no ‘new’ water to be found on earth. Whether it originates from rivers, lakes, springs, or wells, it’s the same water that the dinosaurs already had millions of years ago.

10. Thirst

By the time a person feels thirsty, he or she has already lost 1% of total body fluids.

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We really hope that by reading this post you’ve learned something new today. If so, please let us know in the comments below. Also, do you have interesting water facts that we can add to our list?

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Limestone Fields

The Effects of Hard Water on RO Filter Systems

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Hard water is water with high mineral content, the most common minerals being calcium and magnesium.

While these minerals are beneficial for our health, they can cause serious problems when it comes to reverse osmosis water treatment. What these problems are and what negative side effects they have on RO filter systems, we are going to discuss in the following post.

Effects of Hard Water on Reverse Osmosis Membranes

One of the most notable effects hard water has on reverse osmosis systems is membrane scaling. As the semipermeable membrane is the heart of every RO system, scaling can result in a total system shutdown.

The following is a list of the most problems and their effects as a result of membrane scaling due to overly hard feed water.

If you want to learn more about how to troubleshoot a malfunctioning RO system, click here.

1. Reduced Water Quality

Scaling directly leads to membrane aging. An aged membrane is porous and less effective at removing impurities. Undesired substances may leak into your otherwise clean water.

Even though some systems use 2 consecutive membranes to ensure that all contaminants are filtered out, the filtration performance of these membranes is threatened the moment they get in touch with hard water.

The overall effect is a decrease in water quality and it can’t be guaranteed that the filtered water is still safe for direct consumption.

2. Higher Costs

As is expected with any filter system, regular maintenance is key to ensure that your RO unit works as intended and remains functional for as long as possible.

money

However, if your system has to process exceptionally hard water, even the best model requires more maintenance than usual.

In other words, maintenance checks have to be conducted more frequently, which leads to additional costs you will have to cover, for example for more frequent membrane replacements.

3. Increased Water Wastage

Increased water wastage is yet another serious problem posed by hard water that you’ll have to deal with. It occurs because pressure drops behind the membrane once the water has passed through it. As a result, all subsequent filtration stages can’t perform as efficiently as they normally would.

To achieve the same level of purity, your RO system has to flush more wastewater down the drain. This is not only bad for the environment as water is a very precious resource and  its scarcity is becoming a bigger issue year after year. You also have to pay a higher water bill.

Damage to the Entire System

The negative effects hard water has on RO systems are not limited to membranes alone.

And indeed, if water hardness isn’t properly monitored, your entire system is bound to break in the near future. Because as scaling escalates, water pressure in front of the membrane will continue to grow. This pressure is likely to damage other system parts and eventually cause leakages.

Caution Sign

BOS Bonus Tip: Even if hard water is not an issue in your home, we always recommend our customers to turn off the feed water supply to their filtration system when they are not at home.

The simple reason for that being that you can never be 100% certain that no leakages will occur while you are away. Leaking water can damage wooden floors, carpets and walls among other parts of the building.

Measures of Prevention

In order to guard yourself against reduced water quality and higher costs due to constant membrane replacements and higher system maintenance, regular monitoring of the quality of your feed water is key. This is the only way to ensure that scaling does not become a serious issue.

If you detect excessive amounts of hardness minerals in your water, you have multiple options for treatment.

Usually, minerals responsible for hardness have to be identified as a first step, as not all of them can be removed in the same manner. If, for instance, hardness is caused by too many iron ions, you have to apply a specialized iron filter. For hardness caused by calcium, a regular softening system should do the trick.

Once you know what you are dealing with, everything becomes much easier. Simply install the right treatment system and you are good to go.

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Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

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