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Arsenic in its many forms can be very dangerous to our health. And unfortunately, the element has found its way into our ground and surface waters from natural mineral deposits, but also as a byproduct of mining and other industry sectors as well as through agricultural use in fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
What’s most dangerous about arsenic: Dissolved in water, it can’t be detected by taste, odor, or color.
That’s why we created the buying guide below. It features the best water filters to remove arsenic.
On This Page You Will…
Best Whole House Arsenic Water Filter: Crystal Quest
Type: Whole House System
Arsenic Reduction: Up to 99%
For Small Homes (1-2 People): Crystal Quest Big Blue
Type: Whole House System
Arsenic Reduction: Up to 99%
#1 Arsenic Water Filter Pitcher: Clearly Filtered
Type: Water Pitcher Filter
Arsenic Reduction: 98.3%
NSF: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473
#1 Under Sink Arsenic Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage
Type: Under Sink
Arsenic Reduction: 94.3%
NSF: 42, 53, 401
#1 Countertop/Gravity Arsenic Water Filter: Big Berkey
Type: Gravity Water Filter System
Arsenic Reduction: >99.9%
|*Needs to be combined with Berkey’s PF-2 filter elements.|
Top RO System for Arsenic: AquaTru
Type: RO System
Arsenic Reduction: Arsenic 5 (>98%), Arsenic 3 (50-80%)
NSF: 42, 53, 58, 401, P473
In our opinion, the best water filter to remove arsenic in 2021 is the Crystal Quest Arsenic Whole House Water Filtration System.
That’s because it uses iron oxide-based filter media to reduce up to 99% of total arsenic from water, possibly below detectable levels.
FYI: Total arsenic means both forms of arsenic occurring in water are being targeted (arsenic 3 a.k.a. arsenite, and arsenic 5 also called arsenate) –this is key if you want truly clean and healthy water in your entire home.
Crystal Quest Arsenic Whole House Water Filtration System
|Ability to Remove Arsenic:||Up to 99%|
Households with 1-2 people may want to consider using Crystal Quest’s Big Blue Whole House Arsenic Water Filter as an alternative to the much larger system reviewed right on top. It uses filter cartridges instead of a large mineral tank which is why it’s much cheaper upfront.
However, water flow is limited to 4-6 gallons per minute and thus usually doesn’t suffice for homes with 3 or more people. Also, the arsenic removal filter cartridge needs to be replaced every 60,000 gallons. For a 2-person household, that’s about once a year – at roughly $260.00 per cartridge.
In other words, from a long term perspective you’ll be much cheaper off investing your money in the Crystal Quest Arsenic Whole House Water Filtration System above.
Crystal Quest Big Blue Water Filter for Arsenic
|Ability to Remove Arsenic:||Up to 99%|
In our opinion, the best arsenic water filter pitcher in 2021 is the Clearly Filtered. Total arsenic reduction: 98.3% according to NSF standardized testing. Total arsenic includes both arsenic 3 and 5.
What’s more, the water filter pitcher is tested to remove more than 200 other contaminants that may be present in your water supply – more than any other pitcher on the market. 5 stars!
Clearly Filtered Pitcher
|Type:||Water Pitcher Filter|
|Ability to Remove Arsenic From Water:||98.3%|
|NSF:||42, 53, 244, 401, P473|
In the under sink category, the best water filter for arsenic in 2021 is the Clearly Filtered 3-Stage. It has been lab-tested against NSF standards to remove 94.3% of total arsenic in addition to over 200 other potentially harmful substances that you don’t want in your drinking water. Definitely worth checking out!
Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter
|Ability to Filter Arsenic:||94.3%|
|NSF:||42, 53, 401|
In case you’re looking for a countertop or gravity arsenic removal system, look no further. The Big Berkey is not only the most popular water filter in this category, it’s also the best.
It can be fed from any freshwater source including ponds, stream, and lakes, and produces potable water of exceptional quality – water that tastes great and that meets drinking water standards. This is also ideal in emergency situations.
Combined with PF-2 filter elements, you can achieve more than 99.9% arsenic reduction.
Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter
|Ability for Removing Arsenic:||>99.9%|
The AquaTru reverse osmosis system is the only water filter being part of this guide which was not specifically tested for arsenic reduction.
However, research showed that, applying reverse osmosis, arsenic reduction rates of 98% and higher are realistic. This only applies to arsenic 5 reduction, though. Arsenic 3 reduction varies between 50 and 80%.
As for the AquaTru reverse osmosis water filter itself, it’s NSF-certified for the removal of more than 80 contaminants providing safe drinking water free from unpleasant tastes and odors.
AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Filter
|Arsenic Reduction:||Arsenic 5 (>98%), Arsenic 3 (50-80%)|
|NSF:||42, 53, 58, 401, P473|
(Mobile Hint: Swipe to Scroll)
|Water Filters that Remove Arsenic||Price||Additional Info|
|Crystal Quest Arsenic Whole House Water Filtration System||$$$||Point of Entry Water Filtration System Filters Arsenic in Your Water + Heavy Metals, Also for Well Water|
|Crystal Quest Big Blue Arsenic Water Filtration System||$$||Filters Arsenic in Your Water + Heavy Metals, Also for Well Water|
|Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher Filter||$||Point of Use Filter for Highest Purified Water Quality|
|Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Water Filter System||$$||High Quality Water Filter|
|Big Berkey Water Filter System||$$||Gravity Water Filter System Provides Exceptional Purified Water Quality, Also for Well Water|
|AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Filter||$$||Removes 87.1% Total Dissolved Solids Including Heavy Metals|
Some contaminants like chlorine are easy to remove from water; arsenic isn’t one of them.
To be more precise, removing one form of arsenic, arsenic 5, is relatively simple. You can do so using a reverse osmosis system for example. But removing the other form, which is arsenic 3, you’ll have much more difficulties.
But it’s doable. You just need the right type of water filter respectively water treatment method. These are:
Side note: Both anion exchange and reverse osmosis only affect levels of arsenic 5 in water.
You also need to decide if you prefer point-of-use (POU) or point-of-entry (POE) water treatment. As the name suggests, POU filtration provides clean water at a single tap only such as your kitchen sink, whereas POE is a synonym for whole home applications.
If all you want is treat arsenic in your drinking water and nothing else, installing a relatively inexpensive under sink or countertop water filter is the most straightforward solution. Of course, in this case you can’t drink from any faucet in your home but one.
If you insist on whole house water filtration, though, be prepared to invest a bit more for a water treatment solution that really works.
It’s unlikely that there is just arsenic lurking in your water supply. So, think about adding additional filtration stages to filter other types of water contaminants.
In case of whole house water filtration systems, you need to make sure that a system can provide enough water flow to meet your demand even at times of peak consumption.
Otherwise, you might see a drop in water pressure when using multiple water outlets at once.
A longer service life reduces the amount of time and money you need to invest into maintaining your new arsenic removal system. The Crystal Quest Arsenic Whole House System is definitely the top choice here since all that’s required are replacement of the pre-filter and post-filter every 12-18 months. #cost-effective
When you calculate your budget, also take long term expenses into account, especially for new filter cartridges. Oftentimes, the cost is much higher than the original purchase price of a water filter system.
More on Arsenic Water Filters
Arsenic is a chemical element that naturally occurs in minerals in the earth’s crust and also in pure crystal form.
Primarily, arsenic is used in batteries and as a semiconductor in electronic devices. It’s also being used for the production of ammunition and, in declining quantities, in the agricultural sector as part of pesticides.
Because arsenic is a natural component in the soil, arsenic contamination in deeper levels of groundwater is a widespread issue that severely affects more than 100 million people all over the world.
As for the US, arsenic is found most often in the ground waters of the southwest.
In some cases, arsenic water contamination is men made and a result of agricultural or industrial runoff.
Map: Arsenic Levels in Private Domestic Wells in U.S. Counties (µg/L, Micrograms Per Liter) – Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of arsenic found in water:
Which of the two you may be facing depends on the amount of oxygen in your water source. Higher oxygen levels usually lead to increased arsenic 5 concentrations and less arsenic 3.
This has to do with oxidation and applies to groundwater but also to municipal water systems which oftentimes treat their water with chlorine for disinfection. Chlorine as a common oxidation agent oxidizes arsenic 3 to arsenic 5.
Although arsenic 3 is more toxic than arsenic 5, all forms are a serious health risk. That’s why the metalloid was classified as a Group-A carcinogen by the EPA.
Consequently, there currently exists a federal standard that defines the highest level of arsenic allowed in drinking water. It’s set to 10 parts per billion (used to be 50 ppb before January 2001).
However, due to the fact that arsenic is a cancer-causing pollutant the non-enforceable federal health guideline is 0 ppb. The guideline defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is 0.004 ppb which is considered as not posing a significant health risk.
Speaking of health risks, arsenic is associated with skin, lung, bladder, kidney, and liver cancer. Other health concerns include:
The good news is, unless your arsenic level is extremely high (over 500 ppb), showering, bathing, and other household uses are safe. Arsenic is not absorbed through the skin, nor does it evaporate into the air.
Did you know that food not water is the main cause for arsenic exposure in our country? In other words, our diets play a major role when trying to reduce the amount of arsenic we ingest on a daily basis.
The biggest culprit: Rice and rice-based processed foods including cereal, pasta, and rice milk. This is because rice plants accumulate arsenic from water and soil.
Testing conducted by Consumer Reports showed that more than 200 samples of rice products contained measureable amounts of arsenic, many at worrying levels, both in inorganic as well as organic forms.
Bottom line: Removing arsenic from your drinking water is a great start, but don’t underestimate the potential impact of your diet.
The easiest way to find out if there is any arsenic present in your tap water is by checking the EWG Tap Water Database. Simply enter your zip code and you will be shown a list of suppliers that serve your area and the surrounding county. Click the name of your utility to learn about all the contaminants detected between the years 2010 and 2015.
Another option is to contact your supplier directly and ask for a free Water Quality Report.
What do you do, however, if you are on a private well? One way to go about this is to reach out to your local health department. The staff should be able to tell you whether or not arsenic is a problem in your area.
If you want absolute certainty you should have a water sample tested by an accredited laboratory. Or you can do the testing yourself. A variety of test kits is available that allow for easy, cheap, fast, and relatively accurate testing. Tip: You want to look out for kits that provide useful arsenic detection levels like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, and 50 ppb.
Given the fact that tap water contaminated with arsenic is being served to millions of Americans each year – not to mention the people that receive their water from a polluted well – searching for ways to have the toxin removed from our water at home feels like a worthwhile endeavor.
Where to start? First of all, it’s important to distinguish between arsenic 3 and arsenic 5 in the source water. The latter can be removed pretty easily by most filter systems. But arsenic 3 is more soluble and thus requires a more sophisticated approach. Other factors to consider are water flow rate and the presence of other contaminants, primarily iron.
That being said, with arsenic removal the goal should be to reduce your intake from drinking water as much as possible. The following water treatment methods can help you achieve this:
Additional pre-treatment may be required, particularly if you are on a private well.
What’s more, you should test the water quality periodically to monitor the levels of arsenic to ensure timely filter media replacements.
This basically is an iron removal process. But it works for removing arsenic, too!
Arsenic 3 is oxidized to arsenic 5 as the first step. This can be achieved using chemical additives such as chlorine, ozone, or potassium permanganate. Due to the strong oxidizing properties, contact time is not a critical factor.
The filtering media that follows may consist of sand, sand and coal anthracite, or proprietary products like Pyrolox, Birm, and manganese greensand. Backwashing of the media is required.
Coagulation + filtration is a very common and effective method for getting arsenic-free water.
Metal salts, especially iron, are dissolved into the water causing the arsenic to coagulate (bind to the additive). The newly-formed, larger solid particles can then be pressure-filtered. Pressure filters require backwashing.
Next we have adsorption media filters which is the industry standard for arsenic removal.
Granular iron (hydr)oxide-based media housed in a large tank adsorbs arsenic into its tiny surface pores – similar to how carbon filter media works.
Titanium and different kinds of hybrid media that contain iron-impregnated resin are also highly effective.
The media bed removes arsenic until it’s exhausted. Regular media replacement is mandatory.
Although more effective at removing pentavalent arsenic, activated alumina (or short AA) adsorption works for both arsenic 3 and 5 with achievable reduction rates of more than 95%.
Additional benefits are that activated alumina will also remove any fluoride that might have been added into your water and which you might be concerned about. Plus, activated alumina is easy to handle because there’s no wastewater and backwashing.
One example of a water filter using AA for arsenic removal: The Berkey, one of the most popular gravity-fed water filters.
Similar to a water softener, an anion exchange system relies on a resin bed housed in a large tank to remove the pentavalent form of arsenic from water.
How exactly does the process work? As water passes through the tank, the arsenic replaces chloride ions attached to the resin which becomes exhausted over time.
Eventually, the resin needs to regenerate by backwashing with supersaturated sodium chloride solution. The chloride strips the embedded arsenic molecules of the resin which are then flushed out in the wastewater.
Distillation provides the cleanest water of all purification methods.
First, water is heated to its boiling point. As it vaporizes, it leaves almost all contaminants behind including both forms of arsenic and cools down in a cooling coil where it condenses back into its liquid form. The water is then collected in a separate container.
For more info check the BOS Guide on the Best Water Distiller Systems for Home Use.
Does reverse osmosis remove arsenic from water?
Yes, it does. As studies have shown, reduction rates of more than 98% are realistic. However, this only applies to As(V). Removal of As(III) by reverse osmosis water purification is 50-80%.
Complete removal of As(III) needs pre-oxidation to convert to As(V) which reverse osmosis systems can then filter out. This additional step will increase the cost and complexity of the setup.
Regular activated and even catalytic carbon filtration won’t help removing arsenic. Removal capabilities are insufficient.
Pitcher, dispenser, or faucet units – as far as Brita is concerned, the popular water filters won’t have any effect on arsenic content. Unfortunately, the same goes for PUR.
Unfortunately, heating or boiling water will not remove arsenic. In fact, due to evaporation arsenic concentrations can actually increase.
Questions about the best water filters for arsenic? Ask away!
And keep in mind: We’ll add new reviews of water filters that remove arsenic occasionally. So come back for more!