Does Reverse Osmosis Remove BPA from Water? Find Out Here!

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BPA, or bisphenol-A, is an organic compound mainly used in the production of plastics and resins. It has been linked to a variety of health issues, and so it is a concern for many when looking at what they want to be filtered out of their home drinking water.

BPA is commonly found in municipal water in the USA and also in bottled water, making reverse osmosis a desirable alternative for BPA-free drinking water.

But wait, there is a catch! Not all RO systems will remove BPA effectively. Let’s find out why.

Key Takeaways

  • Most reverse osmosis membranes remove BPA from water, but only if they are made from polyamide. These RO membranes are also known as TFC membranes.
  • Cellulose acetate membranes are ineffective at removing BPA.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove BPA from Water?

So, does reverse osmosis remove BPA from water?

Yes, most reverse osmosis systems are able to remove BPA and phthalates from water – those that use a polyamide-based RO membrane (commonly known as thin-film composite or TFC membranes) rather than a cellulose acetate membrane.

blue reverse osmosis membrane

In studies performed on both types, polyamide-based reverse osmosis membranes showed almost a complete rejection rate of more than 98% of BPA, whereas the cellulose membranes showed only 10-40% removal.

Bottom line, when shopping for a reverse osmosis system to remove BPA from your water supply, choose a system that uses a TFC membrane.

How Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove BPA

A reverse osmosis water filtration system can remove BPA in two ways, via the reverse osmosis membrane, and via the activated carbon pre and post-filters.

Both work by capturing the BPA molecules and not allowing them to move with the water flow through the filtration system and to your faucet.

How Else Can BPA Be Filtered Out of Water?

Aside from using a TFC reverse osmosis membrane, BPA can also be filtered out of water using distillation or activated carbon filter media.

Does Activated Carbon Remove BPA from Water?

So yes, activated carbon can remove a high percentage of BPA from water, which is one of the reasons why many popular water filter products contain it.

Activated carbon is inexpensive, too. Unfortunately, it does not remove as broad a range of contaminants as a reverse osmosis filtration system does.


Water distillation works by heating water until it vaporizes. The water rises as steam and leaves any impurities, including BPA, behind in the boiling chamber.

Now purified, the water in gas form cools back into a liquid and is collected in a separate container.

What Is BPA (Bisphenol-A)?

BPA is a combination of phenol and acetone, which is used in the production of a multitude of things, such as thermal paper, resins, sealants, and plastics.

Industrial runoff is the most significant contaminant of water with BPA. Phthalates are also potentially toxic chemicals used in the production of plastic, but only for soft and flexible plastics.

Both are harmful to the body, particularly in high doses.

How BPA Ends Up in Your Drinking Water

BPAs are not entirely removed during wastewater treatment, and so they end up hanging around in water supplies. This is the primary way they end up in drinking water.

Still, they can also sneak in from plastic water bottles containing BPA, which increases in likelihood if the water is warm (think plastic water bottles left in a car in summer).

Landfills are also a source of BPA leaching into water supplies.

bottled water

Health Effects

BPA and phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals or endocrine disruptors (EDCs). Your endocrine system is your hormone system. These chemicals mess with almost all aspects of hormone cycles, including the production, release, transport, action, and metabolism of hormones.

The health consequences arise when hormones such as thyroid hormones, testosterone, estrogen, and insulin are affected and can cause metabolic diseases, growth issues, and allergies.

BPA exposure is also a concern for infants, children, and fetuses because of the possible health effects on the brain and prostate gland. It has also been linked to behavioral changes in children, and there are some links between BPA and increased blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

With all of that being said, the FDA has stated that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods.

How to Test for BPA in Water

Laboratory testing is the best and oftentimes only way to assess the levels of BPA in any water supply. A lab will use gas and liquid chromatography to detect the presence of most varieties of BPA and send you a comprehensive report within a week or two.

If you have any thoughts about the question, does reverse osmosis remove BPA, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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