The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has shown us that, depending on where you live, there might be contaminants present in your tap water that pose a serious threat to your health.
From April 2014 to late 2015, Flint residents received water contaminated with poisonous lead, a neurotoxin that was long used as a building material for pipes.
Studies conducted in recent years have 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 as it is responsible for:
Fortunately, there are filter systems than reduce lead content in water by as much as 99%. Here are the best ones.
On This Page You Will…
|Model||Our Rating||Price||Lead Reduction||Type||Features|
|$$$||98.6%||Reverse Osmosis Under Sink|
|$$$$||Below 15 ppb||Whole House|
|$$||99.9%||Regular Under Sink|
By far the easiest way of removing lead from water is by using a water filter. But first you should try to identify the contamination source and eliminate it if possible.
Lead enters our water systems via copper pipes and fixtures connected by corroding lead solder, or via pipes that directly contain lead, which applies in particular to homes built before 1986. Another adverse factor is acidic water with low mineral content that accelerates corrosion.
Now, if you are on city water, there usually is not much you can do. In case you receive your water from a private well, however, have a licensed contractor check the well itself and the pump.
If removing the lead source turns out to be too expensive or is just not an option for any other reason, the CDC recommends to flush your 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 has not been used for six hours or more, just let it run for 1-2 minutes or until the water is as cold as it can get.
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 tap water as it dissolves more lead than cold water.
You want to play it safe and install a water filter in your home? These filtration methods are best suited for lead removal:
Definitely look out for NSF Standard 53 certifications that ensure that a filter removes mercury, cadmium and asbestos, and most importantly lead.
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 dissolved in water below 15 ppb, which is the legal limit set by the EPA.
Some filters are more effective than others at helping us to get rid of lead. The following is a collection of the best water filters for lead removal:
Order of Reviews
Yes, RO systems are capable of removing about 94% to 99% of lead. Here are our top 3 favorite systems:
Best Rated RO System: Home Master TMAFC-ERP
Read Our Review
Low Maintenance Costs: iSpring RCC7
Read Our Review
Does Brita remove lead? Well, most regular filter pitchers and dispensers like the Brita Standard that uses coconut-based activated carbon in combination with an ion exchange resin reduce lead water levels only marginally. They are rarely effective enough to provide H2O safe for drinking. However, the Brita Longlast™ filter is WQA certified to remove 99% of lead for up to 120 gallons.
120 gallons will last most families for about two to three months before the cartridge needs replacement, which is more than what many competitor pitcher filters can provide.
In addition to lead, the Brita Longlast is also certified to remove 10 other contaminants including pharmaceuticals that have found their way into our water supply systems in recent years.
Sadly, Brita does not currently ship the Longlast with any of its pitchers. However, it fits in almost all existing Brita models as a drop-in replacement. In case you don’t own one already, here is our top choice on Amazon: Brita 10 Cup Everyday
Apart from filter pitchers, Brita offers the On Tap Complete certified against NSF standards 42, 53 and 401 to remove lead at a minimum rate of 99.3%.
With 100 gallons the filtering capacity is about average. The 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.
Besides the Brita Longlast, there are two other filter pitchers that we like to recommend as they are capable of removing lead from water in sufficient quantities to have earned NSF 53 certifications.
The first model is the ZeroWater ZP-010. Lead reduction: 99%. However, this one doesn’t come without flaws:
The good news is that, apart from lead, the ZeroWater ZP-010 has shown to remove 99% of nitrate, nitrite, fluoride, a bunch of heavy metals and between 90 and 99% of pesticides and VOCs.
The second filter pitcher and one that we really like is sold by Clearly Filtered. The seller claims that it has been tested against NSF Standard 53 to remove 99.5% lead (check out the Amazon product page and convince yourself) among many other contaminants, which is simply mind-blowing.
It can hold up to 10 cups of water and the US made cartridges need replacement about every 2-6 months. The only drawback: The pitcher is one of the most expensive.
PUR offers a wide range of filter pitchers and faucet mounted 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 99% of the toxic heavy metal among other harmful stuff. Filtration capacity: 30 gallons.
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 convenient to use, can store up to 11 cups and is made from BPA-free materials.
In case you don’t like pitchers, the PUR Advanced is up to NSF standards taking on 70 different impurities in water including 99% lead and 96% mercury.
By the way, this is the exact same model that was given to Flint residents so they could combat their water crisis!
What we don’t like is that a handful of costumers have had issues with leaks after about 6-10 months of using the PUR Advanced. What’s causing the problems seem to be cheap materials that tend to develop hair line cracks making the product unusable.
For more details, check the full faucet water filter review.
There are a number of point-of-entry a.k.a. whole house filter systems that were specifically designed for the treatment of well water with elevated iron levels. As for lead, it’s a tad more challenging but not impossible.
The iSpring WGB32B-PB 3-Stage is our favorite. Naturally, the system can also be used to get lead out of city water.
The specialized FCRC25B filter that it uses will effectively reduce lead content below 15 ppb, which is the current EPA standard for drinking water. Other metals that will be removed include chrome-3, manganese, nickel, cadmium and mercury. At a lead concentration of 100 ppb (parts per billion), the filter cartridge has a theoretical filtration capacity of 150,000 gallons.
For more details on the standard iSpring WGB32B whole home system, read our full review here.
Let’s make this quick. As a shower filter that’s effective against lead we recommend the AquaBliss SF220. It for sure won’t remove all of the heavy metal, but at least it also works with hot and well water.
Furthermore, it tackles sediments, chlorine, bacteria and many other impurities that you don’t want to expose your body to.
The universal filter installs within a couple of minutes – no tools required. It’s compatible with all showerhead types including fixed, rain and handheld.
Want to know more? Full review here.
Each element has a filtering life of 3,000 gallons and fits:
We’ve already covered reverse osmosis under sink systems. Now let’s focus on “regular” under counter filters or non-RO systems so to speak.
For lead reduction we recommend the Woder 10K-Gen3, a best seller on Amazon that is low cost and low in maintenance. Independent lab tests have shown that it is capable of removing up to 99.9% of all lead from water while also taking on chromium-6 and other harmful substances.
Due to the fact that this is an inline filter, the installation process is easy and straightforward – shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes. Woder also offers a full satisfaction guarantee. Learn more in our full review.
Then we have the Culligan US-EZ-3 and US-EZ-4. They both reduce lead by about 99.0% (NSF Standard 53 certification) and feature a simple twist on/off design for fast filter replacements without the need to turn off the water supply.
Everything is backed by a 2-year limited manufacturer warranty. To read more about the Culligan US-EZ-3 and US-EZ-4, check out our detailed review.
The only downside is that flow rates are on the low end, so you will have to show some patience when filling a whole jug. Again, you get a 90-day full satisfaction guarantee. Want all the details? Get them here.
Believe it or not, there are many, many high-quality refrigerator water filters that are great for filtering out lead. Examples are:
Which filter is best suited for you depends on your refrigerator model of course. That’s why we suggest you to go ahead and check out our 2020 Refrigerator Water Filter Special here: best-osmosis-systems.com/refrigerator-water-filter-reviews/
More on Lead Filtration
Lead is colorless and odorless, and if traces of it are dissolved in water, they are invisible to the naked eye. So, if there is lead in your tap water, how can you find out about it?
Lead does not evenly distribute in water. This means that you could test your water right now and find 2 ppb of lead. 5 minutes later, you’ll find 10 ppb and the next day you suddenly have 1,000 ppb. So even a direct test cannot give you any guarantee for lead-free water.
Recently, one of our readers reached out to us and asked if it was possible to boil lead out of water. Unfortunately, it is not. While boiling kills waterborne pathogens and eliminates volatile chemicals, lead does not evaporate easily and the heating process can actually further increase lead concentrations.
Distillation on the other hand is a very effective method for removing lead. The heavy metal will stay inside the kettle, while the water first vaporizes and then condenses in the cooling coil.
A softener won’t help you to get lead out of your water, because the ion exchange process does not have any effect on the heavy metal. Also, softeners are usually installed ahead of the pipes and fixtures that are often the source of the contamination in the first place.
What’s more, softened water is more corrosive than un-softened water and may leach lead out of your plumbing system and brass fixtures and thereby make matters worse.
USA Today reported that they identified about 2,000 water supply systems in all 50 U.S. states where tests have shown severe contamination with lead between the years 2013 and 2016.
The Detroit Free Press states that hundreds of major U.S. cities still have 100% lead piping connecting municipal 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 water.
If you have any questions about how to remove lead from water, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
And don’t forget to come back to this page from time to time as we are going to continue searching for the best water filter for lead removal.