Lead Removal

Brita, PUR, Reverse Osmosis – How to Best Remove Lead From Water (+ Filter Reviews)

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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 that was 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:

  • Delays in physical development
  • Reduced IQs
  • Attention disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Brain damages

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…

Our Lead Filters Best-Of List

ModelOur RatingPriceLead ReductionType
Home Master TMAFC-ERP Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System

Best RO System for Lead: Home Master TMAFC-ERP

stars new


Read Review
$$$98.6%Reverse Osmosis Under Sink
iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Charcoal Purifier System

Whole House System: iSpring WGB32B + FCRC25B Lead Reducing Filter

4 and a half stars


Read Review
$$$$below 15 ppbWhole House
Aquagear Purifier Pitcher

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Lead: Aquagear

stars new


Read Review
$$99.9%Pitcher
AquaBliss SF220 Shower Head

Best Lead Shower Head: AquaBliss SF220

4 and a half stars


Read Review
$up to 98%Shower Head
Big Berkey BK4X2

Best for Countertop: Big Berkey BK4X2

4 and a half stars


Read Review
$$$99%Countertop
Britta On Tap Complete Faucet Unit

Best Lead Faucet Filter: Brita On Tap Complete

4 stars


Read Review
$99%Faucet
Woder 10K-Gen3 Charcoal Purifier

Best Non-RO Under Sink Filter for Lead: Woder 10K-Gen3

stars new


Read Review
$$99.9%Regular Under Sink

How to Remove Lead from Water

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 faucet 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.

Filtration Methods

You want to play it safe and install a water filter in your home? These filtration methods are best suited for lead removal:

  • Reverse osmosisReverse osmosis (RO) is considered the best method to reduce and remove lead from drinking water.
  • Activated Carbon filtration– Many but not all activated carbon filters are capable of removing lead. What’s more, some filters get fed up quickly and lose portions of their lead-removing capabilities after processing a certain amount of water.
  • Distillation– Distillation provides almost pure H2 The downside is that the process is time consuming and requires a lot of electricity.

NSF International Standard 53 Certifications

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 filter must be able to reduce the amount of lead dissolved in water below 15 ppb, which is the legal limit set by the EPA.

The Best Water Filter For Lead Removal

Some filters are more effective than others at helping us getting rid of lead. This is a collection of the best water filters for lead removal:

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Lead?

Yes, RO systems are capable of removing about 94% to 99% of lead. Here are our top 3 favorite systems:

Home Master TMAFC-ERP Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking H2O

Best Rated RO System: Home Master TMAFC-ERP

Read Our Review

  •    Price: $$$
  •    Lead Reduction: 98.6%
  •    Filtration Stages: 7
  •    Gallons per Day: 75
  •    Recovery Rate: 50%
iSpring RCC7 Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking

Lowest Maintenance Costs: iSpring RCC7

Read Our Review

  •    Price: $
  •    Lead Reduction: 98.0%
  •    Filtration Stages: 5
  •    Gallons per Day: 75
  •    Recovery Rate: 25%
APEC ULTIMATE RO-90 Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking

Highest Filtration Capacity: APEC ULTIMATE RO-90

Read Our Review

  •    Price: $$
  •    Lead Reduction: 96.8%
  •    Filtration Stages: 5
  •    Gallons per Day: 90
  •    Recovery Rate: 25%

In a Nutshell:

  1. Home Master’s TMAFC-ERP reverse osmosis system has the best lead removal rate and also the most sophisticated filtration process altogether. The built-in permeate pump reduces wastewater production to a minimum. For every gallon of filtered water, only 1 gallon of brine goes down the drain, which lowers your water bill. The system is made in the USA, comes with a 5-year warranty and it features a remineralization stage for healthier and better tasting water. The only downside: Its price.
  2. The iSpring RCC7 stands out as the RO system with the lowest annual maintenance costs. At the same time, it’s very affordable and will reduce lead content by up to 98%. Another benefit is the leak detector that warns you whenever there is moisture underneath the system. Drawbacks? The pure to wasted water ratio is 1:3.
  3. The ULTIMATE RO-90 by APEC Water Systems has the highest filtration capacity and therefore the highest flow rate to ensure that there is always filtered water when you need it. The lead reduction rate is a little lower compared to the other two. Recovery rate: 25% (or 1:3 ratio). Other than that, nothing special to mention.

Does Brita Filter Out Lead Effectively?

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™ 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.

Britta Longlast™ with activated carbon

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 this faucet mounted filter 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 faucets 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.

Britta On Tap Complete Faucet Unit

More Lead Water Filter Pitchers

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.

ZeroWater

The first model is the ZeroWater ZP-010. Lead reduction: 99%. However, this one doesn’t come without flaws:

  1. It’s quite challenging to remove the lid making the refilling an inconvenient and time-consuming procedure.
  2. Above that, it might happen that the cartridge falls out when you try to pour the last sip.
  3. To top it off, in some cases ZeroWater filter cartridges need replacement after a mere 10-20 gallons. Compare that to 120 gallons for the Longlast at more or less the same price. If you do the math, you end up paying 5 to 10 times more.

ZeroWater ZP-010

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.

Aquagear

The second filter pitcher and one that we really like is sold by Aquagear. The seller claims that it has been tested against NSF Standard 42 + 53 to remove 99.9% of lead (check out the Amazon product page and convince yourself) among many other contaminants, which is simply mind-blowing.

It can hold up to 8 cups of water and the US made cartridges need replacement about every 3-6 months. The only drawback: The pitcher is one of the most expensive.

→Full Aquagear Pitcher Review

Aquagear Pitcher

Does a PUR Water Filter Remove Lead?

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.

PUR Lead Removal Replacement Cartridge

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 prefer a faucet mounted purifier, 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.

PUR Advanced Faucet Unit

For more details, follow this link: best-osmosis-systems.com/faucet-mount-water-filter-reviews/#PUR-Advanced

Whole House Filter

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 3-Stage is our favorite when combined with the FCRC25B Lead & Iron Reducing Water Filter. Simply replace one of the system’s carbon filters and you are good to go. Naturally, this setup can also be used to get lead out of city water.

The FCRC25B will effectively reduce lead content below 15 ppb, which is the current EPA standard for drinking water. Other metals removed include chrome-3, manganese, nickel, cadmium and mercury. At 100 ppb (parts per billion), the filter has a theoretical filtration capacity of 150,000 gallons.

iSpring WGB32B Whole House Carbon Purifier System

For more details on the iSpring WGB32B whole home system, visit this page.

Shower Head Filter

Let’s make this quick. As a shower head filter that removes lead we recommend the AquaBliss SF220. It uses a special type of media to get up to 98 percent lead out of water (also for hot and well water).

Furthermore, it tackles sediments, chlorine, bacteria and many other impurities that you don’t want to shower with.

The head installs within a couple of minutes – no tools required. It’s compatible with all shower types, including fixed, rain and handheld showers.

AquaBliss SF220 Shower Head

Does Berkey Remove Lead?

Yes, it does! We usually like to recommend the Big Berkey BK4X2, but what’s really important is that you use Black Berkey Purification Elements to achieve 99% lead reduction.

Each element has a filtering life of 3,000 gallons and fits:

  • Travel Berkeys
  • Big Berkeys
  • Royal Berkeys
  • Imperial Berkeys
  • Crown Berkeys
  • Berkey Lights

Big Berkey BK4X2

Regular Under Sink Purifiers

We’ve already covered reverse osmosis under sink systems. Now let’s focus on “regular” under sink filters or non-RO systems so to speak.

Woder 10K-Gen3

For lead reduction we recommend the Woder 10K-Gen3, a best selling under sink system 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. For a full review, click here.

Woder 10K-Gen3

Culligan

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 and Culligan’s excellent customer service. To read more about the Culligan US-EZ-3 and US-EZ-4, click here.

Culligan US-EZ-4

Aquasana

Last but not least, the Aquasana AQ-5300 or 5300+ Max Flow. These are multi-stage system which both have earned numerous NSF certifications as they provide exceptionally pure water.

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.

Aquasana AQ-5300

Refrigerator Filters

Believe it or not, there are many, many high-quality refrigerator water filters that are great for filtering out lead. Examples are:

  • The Samsung DA29-00020B – for side-by-side and French Door refrigerators. Lead removal: >99.0%
  • The GE RPWFE – also for French Door refrigerators. Lead removal: >98.0%
  • The GE MWF – for side-by-side and bottom-freezer refrigerators. Lead removal: 99.3%
  • The Frigidaire WF2CB PureSource 2 – for refrigerators after 2004. Lead removal: 99.3%
  • The LG LT700P – for different LG refrigerators. Lead removal: >99.3%

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 2018 Refrigerator Water Filter Special here: best-osmosis-systems.com/refrigerator-water-filter-reviews/

More on Lead Filtration

How to Test Water for Lead

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?

  1. First of all, you can request a free quality report, called ‘Consumer Confidence Report’, from your municipal water supplier that gets released each year by July 1st. All public suppliers have to provide this report. The exception to the rule are private wells, which the EPA does not regulate. Here it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the safety of the water. Alternatively, you can access the EWG Tap Water Database, which is a browsable collection of water quality reports from almost all suppliers in the country.
  2. If you can’t get access to a Consumer Confidence Report, you can contact your local health department and ask for information.
  3. As option one and two do not take into account possible lead contamination caused by the plumbing system leading water to and through your home, the safest way of making sure that you can identify lead is by having a direct sample tested by an independent lab. Costs can range from $40 to $150, and your local water authority will help you find a suitable service provider. Or, you could also purchase a test kit at the local hardware store and do the testing yourself.

laboratory test

Heads Up!

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.

Does Boiling Water Remove Lead?

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 chlorine for example, 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.

How About Softeners?

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 faucets and thereby make matters worse.

Flint Water Crisis

  • March 2012– In order to reduce costs, a representative of the city of Flint, Michigan announces the city’s switch between water suppliers from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Karegnondi Water Authority. For this, a new pipeline has to be build and meanwhile, the city will draw its water from the Flint River.
  • April 2014– The switch takes place.
  • February 26, 2015– The EPA detects highly elevated levels of lead in the tap water of Flint resident Lee-Anne Walters. The mother of four has contacted the EPA before, because she was assuming that there was something in the water that was making her kids sick. Tests proved her right: Scientists found 104 parts per billion (ppb) of lead, which is almost seven times higher than the national legal limit. Further tests indicate that other Flint residents receive water in their homes with lead levels as high as 5,000 ppb.
  • October 16, 2015– After eight long months, the city finally switches back to Detroit water. However, residents are warned that it will take weeks for the water system to flush out properly.

What’s Really Shocking

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.

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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.

Leave a Comment:

3 comments
Murry says a few months ago

I was wondering if you knew of any refridgerator filters that you could recommend. I just bought the samsaung rf261beaesr and was wondering what I could buy for that usage.

Reply
    Gene says a few months ago

    Hey Murry,
    Thanks so much for your comment. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend any refrigerator filter right now. But we are planning on writing a refrigerator filter guide soon!
    Best,
    Gene

    Reply
    Gene says a few months ago

    Murry,
    We’ve published a new review series on refrigerator water filters. We’ve covered 3 filters that will fit your refrigerator (first 3 reviews), so make sure to check them out! Link: https://www.best-osmosis-systems.com/refrigerator-water-filter-reviews/#reviews
    Best,
    Gene

    Reply
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