Reducing Harmful Water Contaminants: How to Protect Your Family

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No one likes to think that their drinking water could be dangerous, but it happens more often than you think. There are all kinds of potentially harmful substances present in drinking water all over the US. Even in heavily filtered municipal systems, contaminants can still creep in. If reducing harmful water contaminants is a priority for your family, you have options. The right filter could do a lot to get rid of your problem substances. Before you buy, however, you need to know what you’re looking for. Not all filters are equal, and most handle only a few of the possible substances that could be in your water. Here’s an overview.


This toxic heavy metal is tasteless and odorless, but it can be lethal. Most municipal water systems work effectively to filter it out, but it can appear in wells. Look for a filter than handles heavy metals to get rid of arsenic.

Aluminum and Aluminum Compounds

We’re all exposed to this metal on a regular basis in its solid form, but did you know it could be dissolved in your water? Some water systems add aluminum sulfate as a water clarifier. Other water sources become contaminated through contact with pipes or pollutants. Either way, high aluminum concentrations could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or memory problems. Filters that remove metals will also get rid of aluminum.


This common disinfectant occurs in most municipal water supplies. It can produce an unpleasant smell and taste. Some experts also believe that chlorine increases your risk of some health problems. In contact with ammonia from agricultural pollution, chlorine produces chloramines. These dangerous substances can upset your stomach, irritate delicate tissues, and cause health issues. Many water filters handle chlorine. Just look for a filter that uses carbon in its system.


Most people know this dangerous heavy metal can show up in older paint, but they might not be aware that it’s a risk in water. If you live in an older home where pipes may have been soldered together, lead could leak into your water. Lead is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women, but you can remove it with any filter that gets rid of heavy metals.


Microscopic creatures like cryptosporidium, giardia and bacterial infections can make you very sick. Not all filters remove them, though. Look for a model that can get rid of protozoa, bacteria and viruses if you think your water might be contaminated.


Sulfur, iron, dissolved calcium and similar minerals usually aren’t dangerous. They can be nuisances, however. Sulfur produces a “rotten egg smell” and is particularly common in well water. Iron can turn things bright orange. Excess calcium leaves residue on fixtures. You can remove them all with a brand like Aquasana, which softens water and removes excess minerals.