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The water crisis in Flint, Michigan showed us that depending on where we live there might be contaminants in our drinking water that pose a serious threat to our health.
From April 2014 to late 2015, Flint residents received water contaminated with poisonous lead, a neurotoxin long used as a building material for pipes.
Studies conducted in recent years linked lead to causing brain disorders and damage to kidneys and red blood cells. Lead is also particularly dangerous for unborn babies as well as infants and young children being responsible for:
Fortunately, there are water filters that reduce lead content by as much as 99.9%. Here are the best ones.
On This Page You Will…
Our #1 Whole House Filter System for Lead: PIONEER
Type: Whole House Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.62%
NSF: 53, P473
#1 Lead Removal Pitcher: Clearly Filtered
Type: Water Filter Pitcher
Lead Reduction: 99.5%
NSF: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473
#1 Under Sink Lead Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage
Type: Under Sink Water Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.9%
NSF: 42, 53, 401
#1 RO System for Lead: AquaTru
Type: Reverse Osmosis
Lead Reduction: 99.1%
NSF: 42, 53, 58, 401, P473
#1 Lead Shower Filter: Aquasana AQ-4100
Type: Shower Water Filter
Lead Reduction: Yes
#1 Countertop/Gravity Lead Filter: Big Berkey
Type: Gravity Water Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.9%
NSF: 42, 53
The U.S. EPA has set the lead action level to 15 parts per billion (ppb). This is when water utilities are required to take action to lower the levels of lead in their water supply. (Source)
However, the maximum contaminant goal for lead in drinking water is 0. That’s because lead is simply too harmful even at low concentrations as it can bioaccumulate in the body over time causing irreversible damage. In a nutshell, lead should be eliminated from water entirely if possible.
This is something you should keep in mind when choosing a lead filter. One model might be more expensive than another but therefore certified to remove 99.9% rather than 95.9% lead (just an example) – a small difference which may make a huge difference.
The following is a collection of the best water filters for lead removal:
In our opinion, the best water filter for lead removal in 2021 is the PIONEER by ENPRESS. It’s the only whole house water filter on the market with an NSF Standard 53 certification for guaranteed lead removal. All things considered, it’s the ideal system for people who want lead-free water at every outlet in their home. 5 stars!
SpringWell Whole House Lead & Cyst Removal System: PIONEER
|Type of Filter:||Whole House|
|Ability to Remove Lead:||99.62%|
|NSF Certifications:||53, P473|
Make sure to use our coupon code BOSFREEWH at checkout for FREE SHIPPING!
Probably the best alternative to the PIONEER is the Home Master HMF2SmgCC55. It, too, is a cartridge-based system with
The Home Master HMF2SmgCC55 has 2 advantages over the PIONEER whole house water filter:
On the downside, the Home Master HMF2SmgCC55 is NOT certified for removing lead. The manufacturer claims up to 95% reduction, but that’s not backed by actual lab testing.
Also, the HMF2SmgCC55 is more costly to maintain. The annual cost for 100,000 gallons of filtered water are around $500, opposed to $350-400 for the PIONEER.
And lastly, the Home Master system is for city water only.
In our opinion, the #1 lead removal pitcher in 2021 is the Clearly Filtered. It’s for people who put healthy and clean drinking water at the top of their priority list and don’t want to make any compromises when it comes to quality and taste. Being the only water filter pitcher tested against 5 NSF standards, it’s guaranteed to remove over 232 contaminants including 99.5% lead. 5 stars!
Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
|Ability to Remove Lead:||99.5%|
|NSF Standards:||42, 53, 244, 401, P473|
In our opinion, the number one under sink lead water filtration system in 2021 is the Clearly Filtered 3-Stage. It provides highly clean, safe, and refreshing drinking water. How clean? According to independent lab testing against NSF standards, it removes 99.9% lead in addition to more than 230 other contaminants that might be lurking in your water supply. Simply put, you won’t find an under sink water filter with better stats than the Clearly Filtered 3-Stage; at least we don’t know of one. 5 stars!
Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Filtration System
|Filter Type:||Under Sink|
|Ability to Remove Lead:||99.9%|
|NSF Standards:||42, 53, 401|
2 budget-friendly alternatives to the Clearly Filtered 3-Stage under sink water filter are Aquasana’s Claryum systems (there are 3) and the Epic Smart Shield by Epic Water Filters.
Both are NSF-certified for more than 99.3% average lead reduction which is less than what the Clearly Filtered can do for you, but it’s still very good.
As for Aquasana’s Claryum water filtration systems, there’s
All 3 use activated carbon + catalytic carbon filter media to remove up to 99.9% of at least 77 different and potentially harmful contaminants including lead. NSF certifications: Standard 42, 53, 401 and Protocol P473.
Personally, we favor the AQ-5300+ because the other two tend to be too slow.
The Epic Smart Shield features a single activated coconut carbon block filter stage and is thus the most affordable option. Made in USA, it removes over 70 tap water contaminants like lead (NSF 42, 53, 401) and is available with or without a dedicated faucet.
Setup couldn’t be easier and the filter is small enough to fit in the tightest corner
Capacity: 650 gallons which is less than one-third of the Clearly Filtered’s life so that, over the long run, there’s not that much of a difference in terms of annual filter replacement cost.
In our opinion, the #1 RO system for lead removal in 2021 is the AquaTru. It’s a countertop system that has been tested rigorously to earn 5 different NSF certifications. Lead reduction rate: 99.1%. And the best thing about the AquaTru, it doesn’t even require installation. It’s a plug & play unit ideal for renters and everyone who doesn’t want to bother with a tedious install. 4.5 stars!
AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
|Filter Type:||Reverse Osmosis|
|Ability to Remove Lead:||99.1%|
|NSF Cert.:||42, 53, 58, 401, P473|
Use our coupon code BOSFREERO at checkout for FREE SHIPPING of the Home Master TMAFC!
2 alternatives to the AquaTru countertop RO system are the Aquasana OptimH2O and the Home Master TMAFC. Both are under sink units that require proper installation.
If you’re on a budget the Aquasana OptimH2O is probably the right choice for you. It’s certified to remove 99.3% lead and 87 other contaminants. Just know that the system is not without flaws. A few people had trouble with leaking and the flow rate can be pretty slow, too.
According to the manufacturer, the Home Master TMAFC removes 99.3% lead from water on average. However, this claim isn’t backed by an NSF certification.
Reasons why the filter is still one of our reverse osmosis system top picks is because of A+ customer feedback, a 5-year warranty, low maintenance requirements, and the built-in remineralization – adds calcium and magnesium back into the drinking water to balance mineral loss during the RO filtration process. →Check the Home Master TMAFC on Amazon.
As far as we know, there’s no shower filter certified for lead removal currently available. This also goes for the Aquasana AQ-4100 shower filter. However, it uses the right types of filter media – granular activated carbon combined with KDF-55.
This is the best defense against lead you can get for your shower.
|Ability to Remove Lead from Water:||Yes|
Berkey gravity filters achieve 99.9% lead reduction when used with long-lasting Black Berkey Purification Elements. They also get rid of dozens of other harmful contaminants as certified by lab testing to NSF standards (42 & 53). The result: Healthy and great-tasting water!
We usually like to recommend the Big Berkey, but you can also choose a Travel, Royal, Imperial, or Crown Berkey, or the Berkey Light.
Big Berkey Water Filter for Lead
|Ability to Remove Lead from Water:||99.9%|
|NSF Cert.:||42, 53|
Does Brita remove lead from water? Well, the Brita Standard filter cartridge which can be used with Brita pitchers and dispensers applies coconut-based activated carbon in combination with an ion-exchange resin. This reduces the level of lead only marginally and is not effective enough to provide safe drinking water.
However, the Brita Longlast filter is WQA certified to remove 99.5% of lead in addition to 10 other contaminants including pharmaceuticals that found their way into our water supply systems in recent years. Now, this is a good start but it also shows that Brita simply cannot compete with Clearly Filtered in terms of filtered water quality.
Also, people are having numerous problems with Brita Longlast filters including premature clogging, unpleasant drinking water taste, and overall low quality and filtration performance. Bottom line: We don’t recommend it.
That being said, apart from filter pitchers and dispensers, Brita offers the On Tap Complete, a solid faucet water filter certified against NSF standards 42, 53 and 401 for removing lead at a minimum rate of 99.3%.
With 100 gallons the filtering capacity is about average. The small unit connects to any standard kitchen tap within minutes. Cartridges can be changed with a simple click.
As an added benefit, you can easily switch between filtered and unfiltered water which is a simple yet effective way to extend the filter’s lifespan and save money by only using filtered water when really needed.
Does a PUR water filter remove lead? Yes, it does. Though, PUR offers a wide range of filter pitchers and faucet-mount units…
If you want to go the pitcher route, make sure to use PUR’s Lead Reduction replacement filter cartridges instead of the PUR Basic.
While the Basic has a slightly higher gallon rating, it’s best used for removing mercury, microbiological cysts, chlorine, disinfection byproducts, and several pharmaceuticals. The lead reducing version is certified to eliminate 97.7-99.4% of the toxic heavy metal among other harmful stuff. Filters: 30 gallons.
If you check the performance data sheet you’ll find that the stats aren’t bad, but also nowhere near the Clearly Filtered pitcher reviewed above which is certified to remove way more contaminants and at higher reduction rates.
On a side note: With PUR pitcher filters clogging seems to be a common issue.
If you haven’t settled for a pitcher yet, the PUR Classic is our top choice. It’s easy to use, can store up to 11 cups, and is made from BPA-free materials.
You don’t like pitchers? The PUR Advanced faucet water filtration system is up to NSF standards taking on 70 different contaminants in water including more than 99.3% lead and 96.0% mercury. (This is the exact same model that was given to Flint residents so they could combat their drinking water crisis!)
Cons: People have had issues with leaks after about six months of using the PUR Advanced. What’s causing these problems are cheap materials that tend to develop hair line cracks making the product unusable.
Believe it or not, there are many, many high-quality refrigerator water filters that are great for removing lead. Examples are:
Which filter is best suited for you depends on your refrigerator model of course. That’s why we suggest you go ahead and check our 2021 Refrigerator Water Filter Special here.
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|Filtering System||Price||Lead Reduction||Additional Info|
|SpringWell Whole House Lead and Cyst Removal System: PIONEER||$$$||99.62%||Filtration System was Specifically Designed to Remove Lead from Water Source|
|Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher||$||99.5%||Filtering System Removes 99.% Lead and Other Contaminants, Filters High Amount of Water (100 Gallons), Better than Bottled Water|
|Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Water Filter System||$$||99.9%||Replacing the Filter Cartridges Couldn’t Be More Simple|
|AquaTru Filtration System||$$||99.1%||One of the Best, Easy to Install|
|Aquasana AQ-4100||$||?||Filtering System is Easy to Install|
|Big Berkey Filtration System||$$||99.9%||Designed to Remove Lead from Water Source|
When shopping for a water filter system definitely look out for NSF/ANSI Standard 53 testing and certifications for lead removal.
NSF International is a not-for-profit organization that develops industry standards. Independent third-party testing agencies such as the Water Quality Association (WQA) or CSA certify specific products on the market to these standards.
To get certified, a filtering solution must be able to reduce the amount of lead in water below the U.S. EPA action level of 15 ppb. That’s not perfect, but it’s a great start. You should also check and compare the specific lead reduction rate listed in a product’s performance data sheet.
By the way, some reverse osmosis systems are certified for lead removal against NSF standard 58. Both standards are fine.
Truth is, lead removal from water isn’t so much about the type of filter but rather the filtration process/method(s) used. Reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, KDF filtration, and distillation are all very effective.
They can be found in whole house filtration systems, under sink filters, water filter pitchers, countertop units, gravity-fed systems, faucet filters, distillers, and the different types of reverse osmosis systems.
Consider having your water tested for lead AND other contaminants. Many are no less harmful than lead, chromium-6 for example, and therefore just as important to remove.
In our opinion, it’s always best to go with professional labs. They can test one or more direct water samples for hundreds of different chemicals, organics, heavy metals, etc.
Another option is to check your latest water quality report. It’s free but not available for private well water.
You may also do your own water testing to get a basic idea of the quality of your water supply and which issues you’re facing. Simple test kits are widely available.
How challenging the installation of a lead water filter turns out to be depends on its type.
Whole house systems are certainly more difficult to install than under sink filters.
Pitchers, gravity filters, faucet mount systems, countertop filters, and distillers can usually be assembled in a matter of minutes and don’t require permanent installation.
Replacement filters are an important aspect with every type of water filter: They are the predominant cost factor in the long-term. That’s why long-lasting, affordable filters that are widely available are the preferred choice here.
More on Lead Filters
Lead enters our water systems via pipes and fixtures connected by corroding lead solder which was used until 1986, and via pipes directly containing lead which applies in particular to homes built before the 1930s. Thus, the AWWA estimated that 15-22 million Americans drank from a tap water supply with lead-based service lines in 2016.
Another adverse factor of lead contamination is acidic water with low mineral content that accelerates corrosion.
USA Today identified about 2,000 city water supply systems in all 50 U.S. states where tests showed severe lead contamination between the years 2013 and 2016.
The Detroit Free Press stated that hundreds of major U.S. cities still have 100% lead piping connecting tap water utilities to homes.
And according to The Guardian, at least 33 U.S. cities have been found to use cheats to conceal dangerous levels of lead in their tap water supply.
Lead is classified as a neurotoxin. It
Symptoms in adults include high blood pressure, abdominal pain, constipation, joint and muscle pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities, headache, miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women, fatigue, and memory loss. (Source)
As mentioned above, although the Environmental Protection Agency has set the lead action level to 15 parts per billion, there are no safe levels of lead in drinking water.
Lead is colorless and odorless, and if traces of it are dissolved in water they are invisible to the naked eye. So if there’s lead in your tap water how can you find out about it?
Lead does not distribute evenly in water. You could test your water supply right now and measure 2 ppb of lead. 5 minutes later you might find 10 ppb. And the next day you suddenly have 1,000 ppb. So even direct water testing cannot guarantee lead-free water.
How to remove lead from water? By far the easiest way is using a water filtration system. But first you should try to identify the contamination source and eliminate it if possible.
Your home’s outdated plumbing system may be the root of the problem. If you have the resources to completely renew it, you should definitely do so.
If you’re on private well water, have a licensed contractor check the well itself and the pump.
If removing the lead source turns out to be too expensive or is simply not an option for any other reason, the CDC recommends flushing your water system before using any water for drinking and cooking. The longer the water has been sitting in the pipes, the more lead it’s likely to contain. So, if a particular tap hasn’t been used for six hours or more, let it run for 1-2 minutes or until the water is as cold as it gets.
Obviously this wastes a lot of water so you might want to collect it for later use, for example in your garden. The CDC also advises against using hot water as it dissolves more lead than cold water.
You want to play it safe and have a water filtration system installed in your home? These common filtration methods are suited for lead removal:
Whole house lead water filters operate at the point of entry and thus give you access to lead-free water in your entire home.
Under sink water filters use multiple filter stages to remove many different types of impurities from water, lead among them, at the point of use.
Most reverse osmosis water filter systems are installed under the kitchen sink. But there are also countertop and even whole house setups. The lead removing RO purification process is highly effective.
Countertop and gravity water filters are the pendant to under sink systems. They, too, often use more than one filtration stage to target a whole plethora of water contaminants – like lead!
A water filter pitcher is great for filtering drinking water and water used for cooking. A unit that combines carbon filtration with ion exchange is the best choice for lead filtration.
Faucet-mounted filters don’t have a very long contact time with the water. Therefore, lead reduction can be inadequate, but it doesn’t have to be!
We are still waiting for a shower filter certified for removing lead from water.
Which refrigerator water filter you should choose depends on your fridge model, obviously. The good news: OEM filters are often highly effective at removing lead.
Questions? Leave a comment below!
And don’t forget to come back to this page from time to time as we’re going to continue searching for the best lead water filters.