Is Your Water Filter Really Removing Heavy Metals?

By Mike Adams,

By Mike Adams, editor of Natural News

 As promised, we’ve now published the results from testing countertop water filters for their ability to remove toxic heavy metals and elements with radioactive isotopes. The brands we tested are:

* Zero Water
* Pur
* Brita
* Seychelle
* Culligan
* Mavea
* Waterman Portable Alkaline Water Purifier

(We also tested large “survival” gravity filters, with results to be published separately here on Natural News.)

What we Tested

Using ICP-MS instrumentation (see lab videos here), we tested these water filters for their ability to remove toxic heavy metals and elements which have radioactive isotopes.

Specifically, we tested for removal of:

* Aluminum
* Copper
* Arsenic
* Strontium
* Cadmium
* Cesium
* Mercury
* Lead
* Uranium

Why didn’t we test for fluoride removal? Fluoride is an extremely difficult element to work with due to its high reactivity (which is one reason why you probably shouldn’t drink it). It is also very difficult to remove from water. Testing fluoride concentrations via ICP-MS requires a complicated process run separately from other elements, using different matrix solutions and different plumbing for the instrument.

How we Tested for Heavy Metals Removal

To conduct the tests, we created a multi-element “spike” solution containing from 1300 ppb to 2300 ppb concentrations of each of the tested elements. This spike solution consisted almost entirely of laboratory-grade water (DI water), with a very small fraction (less than 0.1%) of laboratory acids found in element standards for the purpose of matrix stabilization.

For each water filter, we first ran several cycles of pure water through the filter in order to “flush” it and pre-load the filter cartridge with purified laboratory water. Once that was complete, we loaded each water filter pitcher with the spiked solution containing the multiple elements listed above.

After the water passed through the filter and was emptied into the holding section at the bottom of the pitcher, that filtered water was then sampled with a clean pipette, weighed on a calibrated laboratory scale and prepped for ICP-MS analysis.

Each sample was run via ICP-MS using a variety of quality control methods, including the use of calibration checks during the run and a four-point calibration curve for each element. Keep in mind that our ICP-MS instrumentation is far more accurate and sensitive than labs running ICP-OES. In fact, we have had to correct other labs using ICP-OES who discovered their calibrations were way off. The Natural News Forensic Food Lab is in the process of ISO 17025 certification.

What we did not Test for

We did not test for removal of PCBs, pesticides, chlorine or other organic compounds. Accordingly, we cannot reach any conclusions on how well these filters might work on removing those substances.

Testing for those complex molecules would require additional instrumentation which we do not yet have in our lab. (Remember, the Natural News Forensic Food Lab is entirely self-funded and receives no grant money from the government.)

Performance Overview

What shocked me the most about the results of this testing is just how poorly most water filters performed on the removal of toxic heavy metals.

Most of the water filters we tested were entirely unsatisfactory in terms of heavy metals removal, in my informed view. Only two filters showed results which I would consider to be sufficient. Most filters also appeared to perform very poorly for removal of elements with radioactive isotopes (uranium, cesium, strontium).

Here’s an overview of what we found, element by element:

Aluminum Removal

Four of the seven filters tested here actually increased aluminum concentrations in the filtered water.

This indicates they are using a filtration media which contains aluminum and allows some amount of aluminum to enter the water stream during filtration.

Only one filter removed 100% of all aluminum (Zero Water).

Copper Removal

Copper removal ranged from a low of 8.6% to a higher of 99.1%.

The average copper removal rate was 44.8%.

Copper is associated with mental insanity if consumed in very high quantities. Many homes still contain copper pipes, causing copper contamination of tap water.

Arsenic Removal

Arsenic removal ranged from 12.1% to 99.3%, with an average removal of 42.6%.

Arsenic is a cancer-causing metal that’s linked to cancer and organ damage. It’s a common contaminant in well water.

Cadmium Removal

Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal which can cause kidney damage, heart damage and hardening of the arteries.

Cadmium removal ranged from 6.6% (Brita) to a high of 99.2% (Zero Water). The average removal was 33.1%.

Mercury Removal

Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage, kidney damage and reproductive damage.

Because mercury is a “sticky” element, it’s the easiest to remove of all. Removal rates ranged from 62.4% (Culligan) to a high of 99.7% (Waterman Mini).

Average mercury removal across all the filters was 88.5%.

Lead Removal

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that causes brain damage and organ damage in the human body. Natural News has found significant quantities of lead in Organic Rice Protein superfoods imported from China.

Lead removal ranged from a low of 14.1% (Brita) to a high of 93.7% (Waterman Mini).

Average lead removal was 52.5%.

Strontium Removal

In its non-radioactive form, strontium is a bone-building nutrient that’s often found with calcium.

Some water filters removed almost no strontium (Brita and Mavea), while the Zero Water Filter removed 100% of strontium.

One filter, the Waterman mini, increased strontium concentrations in the resulting water, indicating use of strontium in the filter media. This is not a bad thing. Strontium is actually a nutritive mineral, much like calcium.

Cesium Removal

Cesium removal is important to consider due to the Fukushima disaster and the radioactive fallout of Cesium-137.

I am intimately familiar with cesium binding and removal technologies, as I invented the patent-pending Cesium Eliminator dietary supplement that binds with and captures radioactive isotopes of cesium.

In our testing of water filters, cesium removal varied from a low of 9.5% (Brita) to a high of 100% (Zero Water).

Average cesium removal was 35.3%.

Uranium Removal

Removal of uranium is crucial for those planning on surviving a nuclear accident or nuclear war. Following nuclear events, uranium and cesium both fall out of the sky in radioactive forms, settling on bodies of water which are used for irrigation and public water supplies.

Removing radioactive uranium isotopes from drinking water is a crucial survival strategy following a nuclear incident. Only two filters we tested showed an ability to remove substantial amounts of uranium: Zero Water and the Waterman Portable Alkaline Water Purifier.

Magnesium Mineralization

Two water filters we tested substantially increased the level of magnesium in the filtered water. The highest water mineralization rate was achieved by the Waterman mini filter, which is advertised as creating “alkaline water.”

The claim is true. While the magnesium concentration of the water we poured into the water filters was only 1.3 ppm, the Waterman Mini increased the magnesium concentration of the resulting water to nearly 250 ppm.

This is a substantial increase in magnesium concentration. The Seychelle filter also increased magnesium concentrations to nearly 250 ppm, indicating it has a “mineralization” component in its filter cartridge.

Recommendations and Conclusions

Based on the laboratory analysis completed here at Natural News, I can only recommend two water filters in the category of countertop “pitcher” filters.

Natural News does not sell any of the water filters tested here, but they are available at retailers like If you wish to help support our non-profit efforts to conduct more testing, please click this Amazon Smile link before shopping on, and Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center.

The two filters I recommend are:

1) Zero Water
2) Waterman Mini

Click here to see full laboratory testing results and data.

*Image of “water filter” via Shutterstock