About a year ago we met filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig, director of the documentary Tapped, which outlined the ills of bottled water so effectively that we quickly decided to forgo those five-gallon jugs of water in favor of tap water at the disinformation offices, and I did the same at home.
However, while New York City’s tap water isn’t bad compared to some municipalities, it still contains plenty of chemicals that I have no intention of knowingly ingesting (fluoride, chlorine, various VOCs, etc.), so we decided to install water filters.
At the office we installed a plumbed-in filtered water dispenser from local company Cure Water Systems, and it works well in an office environment, proudly sporting one of Stephanie’s “Get Off The Bottle” stickers.
At home I installed an under-sink filter from Aquasana on the advice of super-informed science writer Terri Mitchell, who contributed a great article to the disinformation anthology You Are Still Being Lied To. The water tastes good and it is one of the most effective filters available, but the filters allow less and less water flow over time until you change them, so it’s not perfect.
Which brings me to my favorite filter so far: The Big Berkey. The name alone is pretty good, but it’s the looks and ease of use that I really like (see photo above), not to mention its extremely effective filtration system, which stacks up more than competitively against its peers (see the chart below).
It looks great on our kitchen counter, or wherever we decide to move it as it’s portable. Set up was easy enough, taking maybe 15 minutes once I’d interpreted the instructions, which could be a little clearer (I wish I’d watched the video shown below first).
Caveat: the basic Berkey system doesn’t come with fluoride filters. You have to know you want them and then ask for and purchase the “PF-2TM Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Elements.” These additional filters do result in slower filtering, so when you fill up the top section of the Berkey it takes longer to flow through to the bottom reservoir that dispenses the filtered water. Worth the wait in my opinion. They claim almost complete elimination of fluoride:
Testing for fluoride was based on 20-30ppm of the ion in the influent aqueous solution at a flow rate of no more than 3 gpm per cubic foot of media. Results of < 1ppm of the fluoride ion in the effluent were typical for the media (>95% reduction). Under optimum conditions, effluent concentrations of less than 50 ppb were readily achieved (>99.75% reduction).
Disclosure: the Big Berkey was given to us for review purposes by the nice people at morethanalive.com. I told them we would only review it if we liked it, about three months ago. Well we like it, so thanks April and colleagues, this is the official disinformation endorsement, and we’re going to keep using it.
Note: following is a chart supplied by morethanalive.com comparing various commercially available water filtration systems.
This chart was modified from a version found at http://www.waterfiltercomparisons.com/water_filter_comparison.php
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