If the water coming out of your faucet tastes vaguely like a swimming pool, then a pitcher filter, such as Brita or Pur, will likely eliminate the smell and taste of chlorine. Unfortunately, these types of filtration systems don’t do much else. Their main function is to improve the taste and appearance of your water (by filtering out big particulate matter).
In fact, all that a Brita pitcher even claims to do is reduce levels of chlorine, copper, cadmium, and lead. This is great, especially when it comes to chlorine, which is added to water for good reason (killing microbes), but also comes with a real downside (it’s linked to endocrine disruption and cancer).
Unfortunately, chlorine isn’t where toxins end when it comes to the tap water most of us drink. In addition to trace pharmaceuticals, pesticides, phthalates, and BPA, we also have one controversial chemical intentionally added to our water supply—I’m talking of course about fluoride, which pitcher filters don’t address.
Is Fluoride Dangerous?
While even my holistic dentist is in favor of fluoride for kids, a recent study coming out of Harvard linked it with as much as a 7-point lower IQ in children. If you’re worried about dental health, there is evidence that vitamin D may help prevent cavities, so I recommend supplementing with that if you aren’t doing it already.
Of course, I am neither a doctor nor a dentist, so I encourage you to speak to yours if you’re worried about fluoride. Personally, I filter it out of the water we drink by way of an under-counter water filtration system (more on this below).
The Problem with Plastic Pitchers
Another issue with Brita-type filters is that your water sits in plastic for hours before you drink it. And yes, it’s BPA-free plastic, but we continue to learn that other types of plastic are often equally—or more—concerning. Some pitchers contain styrene-based plastic, which is implicated in lymphoma and leukemia.
So What Can You Do?
A more robust water filtration system will deal with chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, hydrogen sulfide, VOCs, pharmaceutical products, fluoride, and a bunch of other chemicals you haven’t heard of–usually at the cost of a few hundred bucks and with relatively simple installation.
Of course, all water filters also have plastic parts in them. The one that I use is made from is mainly polypropelene (#5 plastic), which from all of my research seems to be the least concerning type, so I’m going with it until someone invents a stainless steel filter!
Oh, and because so many of my clients ask about the filters in the water that comes out of the front of their fridge, I should mention that this is typically filtered very minimally, even if you have a super expensive refrigerator.
Please share your own thoughts and strategies about fluoride!
Photo credit: Andrea Allen