Are you concerned about impurities in your water? Does your tap water ever look cloudy, or taste/smell funny? Do you live in an older house? If any of these apply to you, or if you regularly buy bottled water for any reason, you may want to consider a filter pitcher that will provide you with safer, tastier water but reduce your trips to the store.
The Brita Pitcher is one of the best known examples of a pitcher filtration system. It uses two types of filtration, activated charcoal and ion exchange, to remove a variety of impurities from tap water. Ion exchange resin in the filter is made with small (1-2 mm) beads which have many pores through which the water can flow. Inside the pores, dangerous ions such as copper or lead are replaced with harmless ions such as sodium and potassium. Activated charcoal also has pores which can be different sizes to trap chlorine, organic molecules, and even microorganisms such as cysts that can cause illness. Most water filters contain activated charcoal but the size(s) of the pores will determine what can be filtered.
Overall, I have been pleased with the performance of my Brita Pitcher. I chose the Classic pitcher, but several other types are available, including a pitcher shaped to fit inside the refrigerator door. The pitcherís filter improves the taste of my tap water to the level of bottled spring water, and since some of my plumbing is old, I am glad that the filter removes metals such as lead. Filter replacement is quick and convenient, and filters are available in 4-packs. Since replacement is usually required every 2 months, this package lasts over half a year.
One concern I have about Britaís filter is that it is not certified to remove cysts and similar microorganisms. Cysts are also called spores, and are resistant to disinfectants such as chlorine commonly used in municipal water treatment. They are usually removed by filtration at the treatment plant, but there have been recent instances of disease outbreaks due to contaminated water supplies.
Other dangerous substances such as trihalomethanes (THMís) may also remain in the water after filtration with the Brita pitcher. These chemicals are byproducts of disinfection and can occur when chlorine and similar disinfectants, applied by the treatment plant, react with naturally occurring substances in the water. THMís are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency because they can cause cancer as well as birth defects. However, sometimes municipal systems are not in compliance with regulations, as I found out recently in my own town. A high level of THMís had been present in our drinking water for years. I am now concerned about the potential effects of these chemicals in the future.
I do recommend the Brita Classic pitcher, with the caveat that it will not remove everything in the water that could be dangerous. If you need a broader range of substances removed, this pitcher may not be the one for you. However, I believe that anyone using municipal (tap) water should also use a home filter, and Britaís filter does remove the major players in the water safety game.
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