7 Most Popular Countertop Water Filters Tested For Removal of Heavy Metals and Radioactive Elements

countertop water filters

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7 Countertop Water Filters Tested For Removal of Heavy Metals and Radioactive Elements

Which countertop water filters work the best to remove toxic heavy metals and elements with radioactive isotopes?

At the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, we used our ICP-MS instrumentation to test the most popular water filters for removal of heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury as well as removal of elements with radioactive isotopes: strontium, cesium and uranium. See the next page for a brief explanation of the harm caused by each heavy metal or radioactive isotope.

The brands we tested are:

WaterMan Mini Portable Alkaline Water Purifier
Zero Water

Tests were conducted at parts per billion sensitivity using NIST-traceable external standards and laboratory protocols based on EPA methods.

Heavy metals are toxic to human biology, and radioactive isotopes can cause radiation poisoning from the inside of your body once swallowed:
Arsenic: A cancer-causing metal often found contaminating water wells.
Cadmium: A very toxic heavy metals that damages the heart and kidneys. Also causes hardening of the arteries.
Mercury: A very toxic element that’s also very easy to filter out. Most filters successfully remove nearly all mercury.
Lead: A very toxic heavy metal linked to mental retardation, cancer and bone disorders. Lead is very commonly found in foods and pet treats manufactured in China.
Aluminum: a light metal linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Widely found in many foods in “organic” forms and not considered harmful unless consumed in high concentrations of “inorganic” forms.
Copper: A necessary trace mineral nutrient in small doses, but quickly becomes toxic with high exposure. Can cause mental disorders and insanity. Most people get too much copper from copper water pipes and multivitamins.
Elements with radioactive isotopes:
Strontium: Radioactive isotopes of strontium can contaminate the landscape in the aftermath of a nuclear attack or nuclear disaster.

Cesium: The most deadly radioactive element in a nuclear disaster is cesium-137 with a half life of around 30 years. Cesium-137 falls on water supplies and contaminates drinking water.
Uranium: A byproduct of nuclear bombs and nuclear energy, uranium isotopes last millions of years and have contaminated the entire planet starting with the testing of atomic weapons in the 1940’s.

The Pur water filter we tested performed poorly, removing relatively small amounts of most heavy metals and elements while actually increasing the concentration of aluminum in the filtered water.

Based on these results, we would not recommend Pur water filters for use in the removal of heavy metals or radioactive isotopes.

Actual results for the Pur water filter:
Aluminum reduction: INCREASE of 46.8%
Copper reduction: 27.6%
Arsenic reduction: 19.8%
Strontium reduction: 15.4%
Cadmium reduction: 17.4%
Cesium reduction: 27.8%
Mercury reduction: 98.9%
Lead reduction: 34.9%
Uranium reduction: 31.5%

The Brita water filter we tested was the worst-performing water filter of all those we tested. This was surprising, given the high popularity of the Brita water filter at retail.  Shockingly, the Brita only removed 14% of lead and about 12% of arsenic. At the same time, it actually increased the amount of aluminum in the water by almost 34%.

Based on these results, we would not recommend Brita water filters for use in the removal of heavy metals or radioactive isotopes.

Actual results of the Brita water filter:
Aluminum reduction: INCREASE of 33.9%
Copper reduction: 8.6%
Arsenic reduction: 12.1%
Strontium reduction: 3.6%
Cadmium reduction: 6.6%
Cesium reduction: 9.5%
Mercury reduction: 74.6%
Lead reduction: 14.1%
Uranium reduction: 10.0%

The Seychelle water filter we tested performed better than most. Lead removal at 72% was respectable, and the filter removed more cesium (38.7%) than nearly all the filters tested. Seychelle also did an outstanding job removing arsenic. For this reason, we would recommend Seychelle as a reliable filter for the removal of heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.

Actual results for the Seychelle water filter:
Aluminum reduction: INCREASE of 27.9%
Copper reduction: 39.9%
Arsenic reduction: 78.4%
Strontium reduction: 30.2%
Cadmium reduction: 27.8%
Cesium reduction: 38.7%
Mercury reduction: 99.6%
Lead reduction: 72.0%
Uranium reduction: 43.2%

The Culligan water filter we tested performed poorly, near the bottom of the performance list. (Only Brita was worse.) Culligan only removed about 16% of arsenic, 30% of lead and 30% of cesium. We would not recommend Culligan as a water filter for the removal of heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.

Actual results of the Culligan countertop water filter:
Aluminum reduction: INCREASE of 52.4%
Copper reduction: 30.8%
Arsenic reduction: 16.0%
Strontium reduction: 27.8%
Cadmium reduction: 22.6%
Cesium reduction: 30.4%
Mercury reduction: 62.4%
Lead reduction: 30.2%
Uranium reduction: 28.6%

The Mavea water filter we tested performed relatively poorly, but unlike many other filters, it did not release additional aluminum into the water. So we would rate it as superior to Pur, Brita and Culligan. The overall ability of the Mavea water filter to removal elements was relatively poor, however. Based on the laboratory results, we would not recommend Mavea as a water filter for the removal of heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.

Actual results for the Mavea water filter:
Aluminum reduction: 8.1%
Copper reduction: 18.8%
Arsenic reduction: 18.6%
Strontium reduction: 2.4%
Cadmium reduction: 9.2%
Cesium reduction: 15.3%
Mercury reduction: 85.0%
Lead reduction: 23.4%
Uranium reduction: 22.7%

Despite its small size, the WaterMan Mini water filter performed extremely well, easily out-performing nearly every other water filter we tested. Notably, it removed 62.4% of aluminum, a feat which almost no other filter could match. It also did a terrific job removing lead (93.7%), arsenic (54.0%) and even uranium (72.4%). The increase of strontium in the filtered water (+179%) is actually not a concern. This was a non-radioactive strontium which is typically used as an effective ion exchange medium in filtration technologies. Stronium in its stable isotope is actually a positive mineral for bone health.

For this reason, we highly recommend the WaterMan Mini water filter for the removal of heavy metals and radioactive isotopes.

Actual results for the WaterMan Mini water filter:
Aluminum reduction: 62.4%
Copper reduction: 89.2%
Arsenic reduction: 54.0%
Strontium reduction: INCREASE of 179%
Cadmium reduction: 49.1%
Cesium reduction: 25.7%
Mercury reduction: 99.7%
Lead reduction: 93.7%
Uranium reduction: 72.4%

The ZeroWater water filter out-performed all other water filters we tested, easily earning the top spot in terms of performance. Astonishingly, ZeroWater removed 100% of several elements (Aluminum, Strontium and Cesium) while removing over 99% of everything else, including lead and arsenic. This performance is virtually unheard of in water filtration technologies, regardless of the manufacturer.  The only drawback of ZeroWater filters is that they can quickly be “used up” if you try to filter high mineral content water through them such as well water. Because the ZeroWater ion exchange element binds with virtually ALL elements, its life will be reduced if you run high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) water through it on a regular basis. Nevertheless, because of its impressive performance, ZeroWater earns our choice as the single best countertop water filter to own for emergency use. It very effectively removes toxic heavy metals as well as elements with radioactive isotopes.

ZeroWater performs so well that we wish we offered it for sale, but we don’t because it’s already available everywhere at retail.

Actual results for the ZeroWater water filter:
Aluminum reduction: 100%
Copper reduction: 99.1%
Arsenic reduction: 99.3%
Strontium reduction: 100%
Cadmium reduction: 99.2%
Cesium reduction: 100%
Mercury reduction: 99.4%
Lead reduction: 99.2%
Uranium reduction: 99.1%

Just because a countertop water filter is popular doesn’t mean it’s good at removing heavy metals.  Water filters that remove pesticides and herbicides (complex organic molecules) may be terrible at removing heavy metals or radioactive elements.  Based on the units we tested, we can only recommend two water filters out of this group: The WaterMan Mini and the ZeroWater filter. Both offered impressive performance at removing heavy metals and elements with radioactive isotopes. Note that we did NOT test these water filters for the removal of pesticides, BPA or other chemical compounds. These test results were limited exclusively to heavy metals and selected elements.

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