Top-Rated Water Filters: Clear Leaders (cont.)

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“We’ve looked into a bacteria-killing solution, but I don’t think it would be for home use,” Shelton says. “It would be used either while you’re camping or in an emergency situation.”

No other company tells us that it’s developing a similar UV water-filtration system.

Water-Filtration Bottles: Clean Water On The Go

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IN OR OUT? We noticed that some manufacturers of water-filtering appliances now claim that their various filters leave more naturally occurring minerals (or dissolved solids) in drinking water than do the filters of their competitors. That’s notable, because typically the companies that make water filters claim that their filters remove more contaminants than do those of their competitors.

Aquasana, WaterChef and Waterlogic say their products use selective filtration to retain calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are valuable minerals.

“Some manufacturers have done an effective job of making consumers believe that dissolved solids are a bad thing,” says Derek Mellencamp of Aquasana. “We make a point to create technology that leaves the healthy minerals in there.”

Conversely, ZeroWater makes a point of taking out as many solids as it can. The company says its products (starting at $26) deliver water that registers a reading of zero parts per million on a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter, which is included with ZeroWater products but typically costs $30. Any company’s reverse-osmosis water filter also removes all dissolved solids. Reverse-osmosis filters start at $200.

“The idea of keeping minerals in the water is brought up from time to time, but water goes through so many processes before it gets to your tap that it’s difficult to know where the minerals are coming from,” Chilton says.

So, are the naturally occurring minerals that are in drinking water good or bad for you? That’s difficult to answer, according to NSF and Water Quality Association, which represents the water-treatment industry.

Generally, experts consider calcium, magnesium and potassium to be beneficial for bone and heart health, but most people who have a healthful diet get far more calcium, magnesium and potassium from their food than they do from their drinking water, Andrew says. Fluoride generally is considered to be beneficial for teeth, but experts say too much fluoride can be detrimental.

“There is no easy answer to this one, and it depends entirely on the person’s preferences and their water-supply profile,” Andrew says.

If you wonder about the levels of minerals that are in your drinking water, you won’t find the answers in your public-water supplier’s consumer confidence report, which is an annual report that Environmental Protection Agency requires to be made public for free. EPA has no guidelines for the levels of TDS that can be in drinking water, because the agency believes that TDS levels are an aesthetic issue that merely affects the color, odor and taste of water rather than a health issue.

Andrew tells us that the best way to learn about the amount of TDS that’s in your drinking water is to have an EPA-certified laboratory test your water. You can find a list of certified labs at water.epa.gov.

That should quench your curiosity.

Robert E. Calem has reported about water filters for 29 years. His work has been published in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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