How much lead do jug filters remove?
We tested three popular filter jugs purchased from Amazon to see how well they removed the toxic heavy metal, lead.
We are not affiliated with nor receive any income from the manufacturer of any of the products tested.
Why test for lead?
Lead is incredibly toxic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) sets no safe limit for the concentration of lead in drinking water yet incredibly lead pipes are still used to deliver drinking water in many UK houses.
A scientific study of 1,300 children found that intelligence (measured by IQ) decreased as levels of lead found in the blood increased.
Brita is a German company founded in 1966. It is the leading brand for water filters in the UK, we tested the Marella 2.4 L jug which takes their Maxtra + filter cartridge. Their filters use a three stage process. Firstly a superfine mesh removes and coarse particles, secondly Ion exchange pearls reduce the amount of scale and metals before finally, micro carbon pearls made from coconut shells are used to removed substances like chlorine that impair taste and odour.
Aqua Optima is a trading brand of Strix Ltd who are headquartered in the isle of man. We tested their 2.8 L Oria jug that uses the Evolve+ filter. The marketing material for the Evolve+ filter claim a ‘5-step system’. The filtration is very similar to the Maxtra+ using activated carbon and ion exchange resin to remove impurities. The Evolve+ has two fine mesh filters and is shaped to ensure a consistent fast flow.
Amazon BasicsThe Amazon basics jug is made in Switzerland and the cartridge is manufactured in Germany. The jug has a 2.3 L capacity and is compatible with the Amazon Basics filter or the Maxtra+ cartridge (we tested with the Amazon Basics filter). Unlike the Maxtra+ and Evolve+ filters the Amazon Basics filter contains only activated carbon produces from coconut shells. The Amazon filter is advertised with an impressive looking TŰV SŰD ‘safety test’ certification mark which is a certification that the product meets national and international standards.
Each of the water filters was prepared in-line with the manufacturer’s instructions and then we used the filters to treat tap water that had been spiked with a small amount of lead. We chose a concentration of 6 parts per billion as it’s a concentration of lead we commonly see when testing UK tap water.
We analysed the filtered water in our lab using an incredibly sensitive instrument called an ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer) which can very accurately detect tiny amounts of heavy metals.
The ResultsThe effectiveness of the filters varied considerably. The market leader, Brita did a good job at removing 73.8% of the lead. Somewhat surprising the second place went to the Amazon Basics filter, despite only using activated carbon from coconut shells the Basics filter managed to remove 66.6% of the lead. In final place was the Evolve+ filter that only managed to remove 58.3% of the lead.
The bottom lineAll the filters we tested removed well over half the lead from the tap water but the Brita filter was the most efficient, removing almost three quarters.
If you have high concentrations of lead in your drinking water then jug filters will help reduce the levels but the lead that comes through the filters may still pose a risk to health. If you are concerned about impurities in your drinking water, we recommend that you have your water tested.