Which Faucet Filters Remove Lead?

Faucet filters are an inexpensive, easy way to filter and remove contaminants, such as lead from water. However, it is important to know what faucet filters can and cannot remove. Lead is one such contaminant that you must pay special attention to.

NSF-certified faucet filters remove up to 99% of lead from water. Faucet filters use activated carbon filters to remove lead ions from water. It is recommended to run only cold water through the faucet filter for effective filtration.

While picking a water filter, one of the most important features to watch out for is whether it removes lead from water. In this post, I’ll explain why it’s essential to filter lead from water, and how faucet filters do it. I’ve also made a list of the top 5 faucet filters that reduce lead levels in the water.

How do faucet filters remove lead?

Faucet filters certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) can effectively remove 99% lead from water. Faucet filters rely on the activated carbon filtration system. Activated carbon cartridges use a process called adsorption to remove lead.

Adsorption refers to the phenomenon where particles ‘stick’ to the surface of the adsorbing material without being absorbed into it. The active (charged) sites of the carbon are negatively charged. When water contaminated with lead passes through the activated carbon, the positively charged lead ions stick to the surface of the negatively charged carbon surface.

You can visualize this process by imagining the carbon filter like a magnet that attracts lead to its surface, allowing filtered water to pass through. Thus, the lead is removed from the water and only clean water passes through the filter.

This process is quick and efficient. Keep in mind that the faucet filter must be changed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In addition, faucet filters do not use electricity for filtration – they rely on the pressure of the water supply to effectively filter water. Make sure your water supply has enough pressure – if not, use a booster pump or adjust the pressure-reducing valve on your mains water supply pipe.

Use only cold water while filtering through a faucet filter. This is because heat can alter the carbon-lead adsorption bonds and impair the filtration process.

Top brands of faucet filters

These faucet filters are certified by bodies like the NSF and WQA to reduce the lead quantity in the water.

BrandLead RemovalOther contaminants removedFilter Life (gal)Filter Change IndicatorFlow Rate (gal/min)
Pur Faucet Filter99.3%Asbestos, benzene, TTHM, cyst, mercury100Yes0.52
Brita Faucet Filter99%Asbestos, chlordane, toxaphene, chromium, trichloroethylene100Yes0.58
iSpring Faucet Filter98%Chlorine, mercury, lindane, cysts, chloramine500No1.5
Waterdrop Water Faucet Filtration System98%Chlorine, fluoride320No0.5
Culligan Faucet Mount Filter98%VOCs, chloramine, fluoride, chlorine, cysts200No0.5

The best faucet filter for lead in terms of lead reduction is Pur, with a rating of 99.3%.

It is important to look at factors like other contaminants and filter life while opting for a filter for your home.

If you’re looking for the filter that filters water the quickest, the Culligan filter is a good bet.

If you need a long-lasting filter, the iSpring faucet filter is great!  

How do I know if my water has lead in it?

Lead does not have any visible trace – you cannot taste, see, or smell lead in the water. The only way to find out if your water has lead is to use a home test kit or get it professionally tested at a laboratory.

Home water test kits for lead are easy to use and are relatively inexpensive on Amazon.

You can also get lead test kits delivered to your door that you simply send off to get professionally tested in a lab. The guys at My Tap Score offer this convenient service at a very competitive price and have a fast turn around.

For more information, click the My Tap Score link below:

Test Your Water!

Get your water tested at least once to determine lead levels – especially if you have moved to a new location.

Why is lead in water bad?

Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal found in the earth’s crust. Mined lead is used in car batteries, weights, pigments, cable sheathing, and solders. However, lead from any source is toxic to humans.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that no amount of lead is safe for consumption i.e. the maximum contaminant level for lead in water is zero. This is because even small amounts of ingested lead can accumulate in the body over time and cause adverse effects. The longer an individual is exposed to lead, the more severe the ill-effects.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Pregnant mothers may also be affected by lead contamination and pass it on to their unborn children.

Children affected by lead contamination may suffer from damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, causing impairment in brain and motor functions. They are more susceptible to learning disabilities, hearing impairments, shorter height, lower IQ, anemia, behavioral issues, and impaired functioning of blood cells.

Pregnant women exposed to lead are more at risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and reduced growth of the fetus. The problem is exacerbated if the mother has low calcium levels.

In adults, lead exposure can lead to kidney issues, reproductive problems, hypertension, and other cardiovascular issues.

How does lead contaminate water?

Lead is rarely found naturally in water. Lead enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing fixtures. Corrosion refers to the process of metal getting dissolved and worn away by chemical reactions in the presence of water.

If your pipes, taps, and other plumbing fixtures are made of lead alloys or lead solder, this lead may leech into your drinking water. In addition, fixtures with lead solder, chrome-plated, and brass-plated faucets may contain lead and may leech into the water. 

The US Government’s Safe Drinking Waters Act states that the maximum allowable lead content in your plumbing should be  an average of 0.25%, calculated across the wetted surfaces of pipes and plumbing, and 0.2% for flux and solder.

A corrosive reaction occurs between the lead and water – especially if the water is more  acidic or has low mineral content. As a result, lead leeches into your drinking water. If the water is hot, lead can enter the water at a higher rate.

The amount of lead leeching in the water depends on the acidity of the water, the amount of lead in the pipe, how long the water stays in contact with the pipe, and water temperature. As a rule of thumb, the higher the water temperature and acidity, the more lead can leech into the water.

When it comes to well water, old private wells may contain lead in pump fixtures, pipes, lead solder, and packer elements used above the well screen. Brass-plated pump components may also contain lead that leeches into the water. The longer the water stays in the well, the more lead can be dissolved into it.

While recent regulations have banned the use of lead components in plumbing and water supply systems, fixtures installed before the 1980s are more prone to having lead components. This means that it is essential to test your water supply for lead levels if you live in houses where the plumbing is more than forty years old.

The bottom line

In addition to picking your brand of choice, remember that faucet filters work only if you run cold water through them – hot water is a no-no. In addition, faucet filters fit over only standard taps, so make sure your faucet is compatible with a filter. If used properly, a faucet filter can make your water lead-free!

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