Quality of Local Water

You can check out the quality of your local water at the Environmental Protection Agency - Local Drinking Water Information Web site.

Types of Water Filters

Now that you've done the math and determined that you can save a lot of money by giving up bottled water, you still may not be ready to give up the luxury of filtration for your precious H20. Understandable -- we all want the safest and best-tasting water available, and filter systems are easy to come by. The good news is that there are lots of different types of water filters, ranging from inexpensive pitchers to futuristic high-tech systems. Let's look at some of the more popular water filtration methods.

By far the most common type of water filters are those based on absorption, most of which use activated carbon. If you recall from high school chemistry, lots of stuff sticks to carbon molecules. When a filter is packed with carbon, particles that pass through bind to the molecules of the filter, trapping contaminants. As time goes on, the carbon becomes saturated with particles and therefore less effective at trapping contaminants, which is why you need to change the filter every so often. This is the basic method of most fridge, faucet, and pitcher filter systems.

There are also many lesser-known yet innovative ways of filtering water. For example, ultraviolet (UV) light can be used to purify water, delivered as a pen or wand that is swirled into a water-filled container for a minute or so. Magnetic fields can also be effective water filters, as can those that work by reverse osmosis or ion exchange. Whatever your water filtration preference, be sure to choose one that captures mercury, lead, arsenic, benzene and microbes. Most filters will come with a list of what is being removed from tap water as well as the concentration of contaminants that may remain. When using a water filter system, it's also important that you choose water bottles that are free of contaminants such as bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical that's been used to make hard plastics since the 1960s.

Your body is about 70 percent water, and these tiny molecules of H20 are important for every biological process that goes on inside you. Keep this in mind as you make decisions about water for you and your family. The decision you make can have a big impact on your health, the health of the planet and your pocketbook.

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