The Best Water Filter for Lead Removal? 14 Reviews + Guide 2021

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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:

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

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…

No Time to Read? Check Our List of the Best Water Filters for Lead!

(Hint: Swipe to Scroll)

FiltersOur RatingPriceTypeLead ReductionNSFFilters
PIONEER Whole House Lead Purifier System
Our #1 Whole House Filter System for Lead: PIONEER

Read Review

$$Whole House Filtration System99.62%53, P473PIONEER Whole House Lead Purifier System
Our #1 Whole House Filter System for Lead: PIONEER

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Whole House Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.62%
NSF: 53, P473

Read Review

Clearly Filtered Lead Water Filter Pitcher
#1 Lead Removal Pitcher: Clearly Filtered

Read Review

$$Water Filter Pitcher99.5%42, 53, 244, 401, P473Clearly Filtered Lead Water Filter Pitcher
#1 Lead Removal Pitcher: Clearly Filtered

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Water Filter Pitcher
Lead Reduction: 99.5%
NSF: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473

Read Review

Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter
#1 Under Sink Lead Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage

Read Review

$$Under Sink Water Filtration System99.9%42, 53, 401Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Under Sink Water Filter
#1 Under Sink Lead Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Under Sink Water Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.9%
NSF: 42, 53, 401

Read Review

AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System
#1 RO System for Lead: AquaTru

Read Review

$$Reverse Osmosis99.1%42, 53, 58, 401, P473AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System
#1 RO System for Lead: AquaTru

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Reverse Osmosis
Lead Reduction: 99.1%
NSF: 42, 53, 58, 401, P473

Read Review

*Make sure to use our discount code BOSAquaTru at checkout and get 10% OFF!
Aquasana AQ-4100 Shower Filter
#1 Lead Shower Filter: Aquasana AQ-4100

Read Review

$$Shower Water FilterYes77Aquasana AQ-4100 Shower Filter
#1 Lead Shower Filter: Aquasana AQ-4100

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Shower Water Filter
Lead Reduction: Yes
NSF: 77

Read Review

Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter
#1 Countertop/Gravity Lead Filter: Big Berkey

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$$Gravity Water Filtration System99.9%42, 53Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter
#1 Countertop/Gravity Lead Filter: Big Berkey

Our Rating:
Price: $$
Type: Gravity Water Filtration System
Lead Reduction: 99.9%
NSF: 42, 53

Read Review

Please Note

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 Best Water Filter For Lead Removal

The following is a collection of the best water filters for lead removal:

1. Our #1 Whole House Water Filter for Lead: PIONEER

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!

PIONEER Whole House Lead Filter System

SpringWell Whole House Lead & Cyst Removal System: PIONEER

Price:$$$
Type of Filter:Whole House
Ability to Remove Lead:99.62%
NSF Certifications:53, P473
Warranty:1 Year

Our Rating

Pros

  • Only whole house water filter tested and certified for lead reduction against to NSF standards. Removes 99.62% particulate + soluble lead from 100,000 gallons of water.
    • Traps particulate lead down to 0.5-micron nominal.
    • PIONEER filter uses special binders to bind soluble lead.
  • Also certified for PFOA/PFOS (97.9%, NSF P473) and cyst (>99.95%, NSF 53).
  • Also helps with chlorine, chloramine, other heavy metals, bad taste and odor.
  • 4.51 gallons per minute service flow rate and 8 gpm peak flow – sufficient for homes with 1-3 bathrooms depending on how much water you use simultaneously.
  • Unit is metered and uses simple LED system to let you know when the remaining filter life is less than 10% and when to replace the filter cartridge.
  • Filtration capacity is 100,000 gallons of water or 1 year, whichever comes first.
  • Whole house water filter system is shipped preassembled and includes bypass ideal for DIYers who like to self-install and save money.
  • Replacing filters is a simple process and doesn’t require tools.
  • Seller provides 6-month satisfaction guarantee for peace of mind.
  • System is warranted for 1 year, filters for 30 days.

Cons

  • 8 gallons per minute peak flow might not suffice for large homes with 3 or more bathrooms without experiencing water pressure drops.
  • Not for people on a budget.

→ Read Our Full PIONEER Filter Review Here

2. Whole House Water Filter System Alternative: Home Master HMF2SmgCC55

Make sure to use our coupon code BOSFREEWH at checkout for FREE SHIPPING!

Home Master HMF2SmgCC55 Whole House System

Probably the best alternative to the PIONEER is the Home Master HMF2SmgCC55. It, too, is a cartridge-based system with

  • One multi-gradient depth sediment filter stage removing sand, silt and other particles down to a size of 1 micron (nominal).
  • And one cartridge with a mix of catalytic carbon and 12 pounds(!) of KDF-55 filter media for “challenging lead removal applications”. Apart from lead and other water-soluble metals, the filter media also reduces chloramine, chlorine, all kinds of chemicals, and bad taste & odor.

The Home Master HMF2SmgCC55 has 2 advantages over the PIONEER whole house water filter:

  1. It’s a lot more affordable upfront.
  2. Instead of 8, it allows for up to 10 gallons per minute flow rate which is better for large houses with multiple bathrooms.

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.

3. Our #1 Lead Removal Pitcher: Clearly Filtered

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 Purifier Pitcher for Lead

Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher

Price:$
Filter Type:Pitcher
Ability to Remove Lead:99.5%
NSF Standards:42, 53, 244, 401, P473
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • Our go-to water filter pitcher.
  • Removes more contaminants than any other model on the market. For example: Chlorine (99.9%), chloramine (99.9%), fluoride (96.9-98.2%), bacteria like E Coli (99.9%), cryptosporidium (99.9%), arsenic (99.6%), lead (99.5%), chromium-6 (96.9%), about two dozen pharmaceutical drugs (99.9%), 10 herbicides (93.2-99.9%), pesticides (all 99.9%), chemicals like BPA, PFOA and nitrate (≥97%), 100+ volatile organic compounds/semi-volatile compounds (vast majority to 99.9%).
  • Uses Affinity Filtration Technology which combines granular activated carbon with several other proprietary filtration materials.
  • Built in the USA.
  • Made from medical-grade Tritan.
    • BPA-free and doesn’t leach chemicals, odors, or tastes into your water.
  • Holds 10 cups of water, enough for family use.
  • Removable lid makes refilling very easy.
  • Water dam allows pouring out drinking water without spilling unfiltered water.
  • Most essential minerals are kept in the water and add to daily nutritional intake.
  • Filters are long lasting for convenience: 100 gallons of water or 4 months on average.
    • Way more than what you get with most other brands.
  • Filter pitcher is backed by 30-day no-risk satisfaction guarantee + limited lifetime warranty.

Cons

  • Although you can buy in bulk and/or subscribe to filters and save up to $9.50 per piece, the replacements are quite pricey.
  • People complained about slow flow and clogged water filters.
    • We haven’t experienced the latter ourselves.
    • The Clearly Filtered pitcher was designed for longer contact time between water and filter media to allow for highest contaminant removal.
    • Seller sends free replacement filters in case of defect.

→ Read Our Full Clearly Filtered Pitcher Review Here

4. Our #1 Under Sink Lead Water Filter: Clearly Filtered 3-Stage

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 Under Sink Water Filter

Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Filtration System

Price:$$
Filter Type:Under Sink
Ability to Remove Lead:99.9%
NSF Standards:42, 53, 401
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • The Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Under-the-Sink Filter System removes lead (99.9%), chlorine (98.6%), chloramines (95.3%), arsenic (94.3%), sodium fluoride (99.5%), chromium 6 (99.4%), PFOA (99.9%), herbicides and pesticides (up to 99.9%), 100+ VOCs and semi volatile compounds (99.9%), and much more.
  • Stage 1 uses granular activated carbon filter (made from coconut shells).
  • Filter stage 2 uses “special blend” to reduce heavy metals, VOCs, radiation, PFAS and other chemicals.
  • Filter stage 3 uses proprietary filter media which targets fluoride and arsenic in drinking water.
    • Free from activated alumina and bone char.
  • Built in USA.
  • Stainless steel hoses guarantee durability.
  • Designed for a quick, non-permanent DIY installation (i.e. doesn’t require a hole for an extra faucet) – great for renters and to save money.
  • System maintenance is low. Each of the 3 filters lasts about 2,000 gallons or 12 months. The average household has to replace once a year.
    • Modular design + built-in shut-off valves allow for quick and tool-free filter changes with no need to close the feed water supply.
  • Covered by lifetime warranty.
  • 30 days satisfaction guarantee for peace of mind.

Cons

  • Quality has its price. This under sink water filter for lead removal is more expensive than most of its competition.
  • Reduces water pressure by 15-25% (thorough filtration takes time).

→ Read Our Full Clearly Filtered 3-Stage Review Here

5. Under Sink Water Filter Alternatives: Aquasana Claryum & Epic Smart Shield Under Sink Water Filter Systems

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

Aquasana AQ-5300+ Under Sink Lead Water Filter

  • The AQ-5200 with 2 filter stages and 500 gallons of water filtration capacity.
  • The AQ-5300 with 3 filter stages. Filters 600 gallons.
  • And the AQ-5300+ with 3 larger filter stages for higher water flow and 800 gallons filter life.

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.

Epic Smart Shield Under Sink Water Filter

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.

6. Our # 1 RO System for Lead Removal: AquaTru

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!

Make sure to use our discount code BOSAquaTru at checkout and get 10% OFF!

AquaTru Countertop Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System

AquaTru Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

Price:$$
Filter Type:Reverse Osmosis
Ability to Remove Lead:99.1%
NSF Cert.:42, 53, 58, 401, P473
Warranty:1 Year

Our Rating

Pros

  • RO system is compact and easy to use.
  • Tested and certified to remove up to 99.99% of 82 different contaminants
  • 4 filter stages:
    • Uses combination of sediment filter and activated carbon filter to trap sediments and other large particulates as well as adsorb chlorine, chemicals, bad and odor, and more.
    • Reverse osmosis membrane rejects heavy metals, fluoride, nitrate, arsenic, total dissolved solids, etc.
    • Activated coconut carbon block polishing filter takes care of organic compounds, PFOA, PFOS, pesticides, and residual taste among other stuff.
  • 5 NSF/ANSI certifications (Standard 42, 53, 58, 401, Protocol P473) guarantee clean drinking water.
  • Purifies 1 gallon of water in 10-15 minutes so no long waiting times.
  • Built-in pressure pump increases recovery rate to 80%, meaning only one-fifth of the input water goes down the drain (compared to 3-5 gallons that other reverse osmosis water filtration systems waste for every gallon of filtered water produced).
  • Permeate water collects in 3-quart front tank which allows for easy button dispensing.
    • Tank is removable for portability and refrigerator cooling.
  • Reject water is collected in second tank ready to be discarded.
  • Material is Tritan plastic which is BPA + BPS-free.
  • Takes less than 10 minutes to set up for maximum convenience. No drilling. No plumbing.
    • Great for renters who aren’t allowed to drill into their sink/countertop and make changes to the plumbing system.
  • System maintenance is low, straightforward, and affordable. Cost: Approximately $100-120 a year.
    • Indicator light on front panel tells you when it’s time for a new filter cartridge.
    • Replace the filter cartridges annually/biannually. RO membrane lasts up to 2 years.
    • Tool-free replacement process takes 2 minutes max.
  • One year warranty.

Cons

  • Issues with leaks and units malfunctioning after several months use.

→ Read Our Full Review of the AquaTru System

7. 2 Reverse Osmosis System Alternatives: Aquasana OptimH2O and Home Master TMAFC

Use our coupon code BOSFREERO at checkout for FREE SHIPPING of the Home Master TMAFC!

Aquasana OptimH2O Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking

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.

Home Master TMAFC Reverse Osmosis System for Drinking Water

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.

8. Shower Filter that Removes Lead: Aquasana AQ-4100

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.

Aquasana AQ-4100 Shower Filter

Aquasana AQ-4100

Price:$
Filter Type:Shower
Ability to Remove Lead from Water:Yes
NSF Cert.:77
Warranty:1 Year

Our Rating

Pros

  • Choose your favorite model:
    • With massaging head.
    • With handheld wand.
    • No head.
  • Uses 2-stage filtration process. The first filter layer is granular activated carbon followed by KDF media. Great for lead removal.
  • Shower filter is NSF standard 77 certified for chlorine removal (87% for 10,000 gallons of water) – great for healthy skin. Other than that, Aquasana says the unit is also effective against chloramine, iron, hydrogen sulfide, mercury, and various chemicals.
  • BPA-free materials only.
  • Easy to install.
    • Shower head remains at its old height so you can stand upright.
  • Filter life is 10,000 gallons or 6 months so maintenance is kept at a bare minimum.
  • The manufacturer provides a 90-day satisfaction guarantee and a 1-year limited warranty for peace of mind.

Cons

  • The filter nozzle is short and thus not compatible with large shower heads.
  • Some people have had issues with clogged or broken filters.

→ Read Our Full Aquasana Shower Filter Review Here

9. Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter

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 Gravity Water Filter

Big Berkey Water Filter for Lead

Price:$$
Filter Type:Gravity
Ability to Remove Lead from Water:99.9%
NSF Cert.:42, 53
Warranty:Lifetime

Our Rating

Pros

  • Big Berkey is perfect for family of 4.
  • Large tank volume and fast filtration eliminate waiting times. You also don’t need to refill too often.
  • Black Berkey filters remove lead and other heavy metals including chromium 6, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, bacteria and viruses, pharmaceutical drugs, chlorine taste and odor, chloramines, sediment…
    • PF-2 filter elements as optional upgrades for even more effective fluoride reduction.
  • 304 food-grade stainless steel provides for durability and preserves filtered water purity.
  • A rubber casket prevents surface scratching.
  • Initial assembly is super easy. The same goes for system maintenance.
    • Each element has a filtering life of as much as 3,000 gallons.
    • You probably won’t need to change the filter elements more than once a year. Cost? Affordable!
  • Filter system is warranted for lifetime.

Cons

  • Re-priming of the filter elements may be required.
  • The drinking water dispenser might leak.

→ Read Our Full Big Berkey Review Here

10. Brita Filters

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.

Brita On Tap Complete Faucet Water Filter

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.

11. PUR Water Filters

Does a PUR water filter remove lead? Yes, it does. Though, PUR offers a wide range of filter pitchers and faucet-mount units…

PUR Lead Removal Replacement Cartridge

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.

PUR Advanced Faucet Filter

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.

12. Refrigerator Water Filters

Believe it or not, there are many, many high-quality refrigerator water filters that are great for removing 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 go ahead and check our 2021 Refrigerator Water Filter Special here.

Best Lead Water Filter Comparison List

(Hint: Swipe to Scroll)

Filtering SystemPriceLead ReductionAdditional 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

Buying Guide – What to Look for When Shopping for a Water Filter for Lead

Indispensable: NSF/ANSI International Standard 53 Certifications

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.

Types of Lead Filtration Systems

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.

Testing Your Water for Other Contaminants

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.

Lead Filter Installation

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

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

How Does Lead Get into Our Water?

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.

corroded lead pipes

Another adverse factor of lead contamination is acidic water with low mineral content that accelerates corrosion.

What’s Really Shocking

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.

Health Risks – How Does Lead Affect the Human Body?

Lead is classified as a neurotoxin. It

  • permanently impairs the intellectual development of children and fetuses, and their delays physical development.
  • affects a child’s ability to concentrate and causes behavior problems (e.g. irritability).
  • can be responsible for fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, and hearing loss in young children.

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)

What’s Considered a Safe Level of Lead in Drinking Water?

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.

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’s lead in your tap water how can you find out about it?

  1. First of all, you can request a free water quality report, called Consumer Confidence Report, from your municipality. Water quality reports have to be released each year by July 1st. And all public water suppliers have to provide them for free. The exception is private wells which the EPA does not regulate. Here it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain water safety. Alternatively, you can access the EWG Tap Water Database which provides 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. Since 1. and 2. don’t take into account possible lead contamination caused by the plumbing system leading water to and through your home, the safest way of identifying a problem is by having a direct sample tested by an independent lab. Costs range from $40 to $150. Your local water authority can help you find a suitable service provider.

Heads Up!

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 to remove lead from water 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.

Filtration Methods

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:

  • Reverse osmosis purification – Reverse osmosis (RO) is considered one of the best methods to remove lead from water.
  • Activated carbon filters – Activated carbon uses adsorption to effectively remove lead and other heavy metals. However, not all activated carbon filters are effective enough. What’s more, some quickly lose their removal capabilities.
  • KDF-55 filtration – When water filters through KDF-55, soluble lead is reduced to insoluble lead which is then electroplated onto the media surface.
  • Distillation – Although having nothing to do with water filtration, distillation is a very effective method that can be used to remove lead from water.

The Different Types of Lead Water Filters and How They Work

Whole House Lead Water Filters

Whole house lead water filters operate at the point of entry and thus give you access to lead-free water in your entire home.

Big Blue Whole House Water Filter

Under Sink Water Filters

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.

RO Systems

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 & Gravity Water Filters

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!

Filter Pitchers

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 Water Filters

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!

Shower Filters

We are still waiting for a shower filter certified for removing lead from water.

Refrigerator Filters

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.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Lead Filter

Advantages

  1. Drinking water without lead is much, much healthier.
  2. Usually, filtered water tastes much better.
  3. Most water filters not only filter lead, they are also effective against other harmful stuff.
  4. Unless you are interested in a whole house system, lead filter costs are manageable.
  5. Installing and servicing a lead filter is easy in most cases.

Disadvantages

  1. A lead filter may remove 95% of the heavy metal, but that still might be insufficient to provide safe drinking water.
  2. Not all water filters are NSF-certified to remove lead from water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What does lead in water taste like?
    You cannot taste lead in water.
  • What does lead in water look like?
    It’s invisible to the naked eye at concentrations found in tap water and well water.
  • What are the most trusted lead water filter brands?
    We doubt these water filter brands even exist. But you can find the most effective lead removing filters listed above.
  • Does reverse osmosis remove lead from water?
    Yes, RO systems are great for removing lead from drinking water – to more than 99 percent depending on the model.
  • Does boiling remove lead from water?
    Unfortunately, boiling does not remove lead from water. While it kills waterborne pathogens and eliminates volatile chemicals, lead does not evaporate easily and the heating process may actually further increase lead levels.
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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.

About the Author Tim Stanley

Tim Stanley is our content creator veteran. His daily tasks involve everything from research to editing. His expertise: Water Softeners. When he is not working, Tim spends most his free time cycling and shaping his body doing calisthenics. To calm down he also likes to watch Netflix (who doesn’t?).
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