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    Drinking Water Quality: What You Need to Know

    Water Quality and Water Filters

    In an effort to make their drinking water safer, some people use water filters at home. There are four main kinds:

    • Activated carbon filters can remove certain organic contaminants that affect taste and odor. Some systems are also designed to remove chlorination byproducts, solvents, and pesticides, or certain metals such as copper or lead.
    • Ion exchange units with activated alumina can remove minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which make water hard. This is often used in combination with another filtration method, such as carbon absorption or reverse osmosis.
    • Reverse osmosis units with carbon can remove nitrates and sodium as well as pesticides and petrochemicals.
    • Distillation units boil water and condense the steam, creating distilled water.

    No one system will remove all water contaminants. If you do decide you want to install a system, you should have your water tested by a certified laboratory first to find out what's in your water.

    No matter which water filtering system you choose, you need to maintain it; otherwise, contaminants build up in the filter and make the water quality worse than it would be without the filter.

    It's important to know that a home water filter won’t protect you from water that has been declared unsafe. If that happens in your area, follow the advice of your local water authorities until the water is declared safe to drink once more.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on October 10, 2016
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