Monsanto — Er, Bayer — Will End Consumer Glyphosate Sales. It’s Not Enough.

Categories

Food System

Photo CC-BY © Mike Mozart / Flickr.com

Over 100,000 legal claims from consumers finally prompted Bayer to announce last month that it will remove glyphosate from its residential-use weed killers, including Roundup, beginning in 2023 (newsflash: still not soon enough). Bayer (which now owns Monsanto) said it will replace glyphosate with a different alternative.

In 2015, the World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen but Monsanto — as the company was then known — initiated a PR blitz to contradict that finding. This included paying scientists to conduct an “independent” review of glyphosate to give the toxic chemical a bill of good health, and wooing officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tasked with reviewing the pesticide’s cancer effects. This interference heavily muddied the waters and likely influenced EPA to find that glyphosate didn’t pose a cancer risk to humans. 

But what a government agency that is supposed to protect us didn’t do, and what a corporation hellbent on protecting its profits wouldn’t proactively do, thousands of costly lawsuits finally accomplished. Still, this voluntary removal of glyphosate from residential-use products doesn’t go nearly far enough, and we won’t rest until the EPA bans glyphosate altogether. 

Here’s a brief history of how Monsanto/Bayer has manipulated science and government agencies in order to keep selling their deadly money-maker. 

Court Documents Revealed Monsanto’s Playbook To Obscure Roundup’s Cancer Link

In March of 2017, a federal judge unsealed court documents that detailed the lengths Monsanto went to twist the public narrative and EPA review in order to continue selling glyphosate under the claim that it was safe. 

For instance, an internal PowerPoint outlines Monsanto’s strategy for countering the damning classification as a probable carcinogen. One suggestion was to publish a paper analyzing the animal data that the WHO used in its cancer assessment, noting that the “majority of writing can be done by Monsanto, keeping OS$ [costs] down.” It suggested recruiting external scientists like Helmut Greim, who co-authored a Monsanto-funded analysis the following year that — unsurprisingly — concluded that glyphosate is not carcinogenic to laboratory animals.

They also ghost-wrote papers and paid “independent” scientists to put their names on them, and stopped working with scientists who wouldn’t present findings the way they instructed. 

EPA’s framework for assessing the public health risk posed by pesticides like Roundup relies heavily on industry-funded science, which makes the process vulnerable to this kind of predetermined conclusion-driven approach. It is also why advocates worry that glyphosate’s replacement could have its own health risks, but still be given the green light by EPA. 

Injured Users Of Roundup And Advocacy Groups Like Food & Water Watch Took Action When EPA Did Not

For years while we’ve been waiting for EPA to do the scientifically sound thing by banning glyphosate, we also sounded the alarm ourselves, publishing research and educating citizens about its danger. 

We compiled data that showed glyphosate: 

  • Is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with hormone levels, even when glyphosate residue on foods is present below allowable thresholds;
  • Is probably carcinogenic, linked strongly to non-Hodgkins lymphoma, according to  the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer — whose assessment has underpinned many of the lawsuits filed against Monsanto/Bayer;
  • May contribute to antibiotic resistance in certain bacteria;
  • May be linked to reproductive issues and birth defects; and
  • Is widely present in our food — meaning this voluntary suspension of consumer-level Roundup sales does not go far enough and we still need EPA to act. 

It’s Time For EPA To Do Its Job To Protect The Public And Ban Glyphosate

Bayer’s press release announcing the move to eventually pull glyphosate from their products confirms that they have no plans to stop selling it for large-scale agricultural uses — which is the path by which it ends up in so many of the foods in our grocery stores: 

This move is being made exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns. As the vast majority of claims in the litigation come from Lawn & Garden market users, this action largely eliminates the primary source of future claims beyond an assumed latency period. There will be no change in the availability of the company’s glyphosate formulations in the U.S. professional and agricultural markets.

This statement implies that Bayer/Monsanto has no qualms about continuing to cause harm to consumers, as long as they feel adequately shielded from liability for that harm. 

This is why we can’t rely on corporations to do what’s right, and we must insist the EPA do its job and ban glyphosate everywhere, for good. 

Tell the EPA to ban Roundup everywhere!

Farm System Reform Act Reintroduced in Congress; Would Ban New Factory Farming

Categories

Food System

Washington, D.C. – A diverse coalition of animal welfare, public health, environmental, and sustainable agriculture organizations commend U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) for introducing the Farm System Reform Act, federal legislation that will help create a more humane food system by moving away from destructive concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and supporting the transition toward higher welfare, certified farms, and alternative crop production. This legislation also includes provisions to address industry consolidation and unfair practices, which can hamper farmers’ independence and ability to improve animal welfare, as well as measures to ensure communities located near factory farms are able to hold these companies legally accountable for negative environmental and public health impacts, and to provide consumers with increased transparency on country-of-origin labelling.

Original cosponsors of the Farm System Reform Act include Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the Senate, and Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D.Wis.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Andy Levin (D-Mich.) in the House of Representatives.  

“The factory farm agricultural model, which dominates our country’s food system, fuels toxic air and water contamination, drives dangerous and unfair working conditions, wreaks havoc on independent farmers and rural communities and threatens food safety,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The Farm System Reform Act is the bold approach we need to bring dangerous factory farming under control now—and begin the necessary transformation to a safe and equitable future for food consumers and workers alike.”

Almost 10 billion animals are raised on U.S. factory farms every year, crowded together in intensive confinement and unable to carry out even some of their most basic natural behaviors. The COVID-19 crisis further exposed the failings of our current food system as viral outbreaks among slaughterhouse employees and inspectors killed hundreds of workers and resulted in shutdowns and the mass killing of millions of farm animals who languished on farms with no place to go. The scale of this suffering has increased the immediacy with which the food, farming, and animal welfare movements advocate together for a shared vision of a better farming system.

“Large, multinational meatpackers, because of their buying power and size, are putting our food system at risk and harming everyone along the supply chain. We need to fix the broken system – that means giving family farmers and ranchers a fair shot and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” said Sen. Booker. “We must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system. An important first step is ending our reliance on huge factory farms and investing in a system that focuses on resilient and regenerative production.”

“If Congress doesn’t act soon, we risk losing an entire generation of family farms to multinational farming corporations,” said Rep. Khanna. “The Farm System Reform Act is the clear way to ensure the American food system maintains fair competition, high animal welfare standards, and a dependable food chain. We must fix this broken system. I’m proud to reintroduce this critical legislation with Senator Booker to level the playing field for family farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers in the 21st century.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed animal agriculture’s deceptive façade, revealing a broken factory farm system that is failing both people and animals. The Farm System Reform Act will help repair and bring compassion to our food system, protecting countless animals from unconscionable cruelty,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “We thank Senator Booker and Representative Khanna for championing this necessary legislation to build a food system that values animals, people, and our planet—not just profit.”

Factory farms directly threaten animal welfare, often making use of cruel confinement methods that prevent animals from carrying out even the most basic natural behaviors like perching or rooting. Besides harming animals, factory farming also wreaks havoc on rural communities, public health, farmers, farm workers, and the environment. The COVID-19 crisis has strengthened the public’s understanding of these linked impacts with demand for change growing. A 2020 survey found that the vast majority (89 percent) of Americans are concerned about animal welfare, worker safety or public health issues that go hand-in-hand with factory farming—including 85 percent of farmers and their families who support a complete ban on new CAFOs, almost twice the level of support expressed by the general public. 

The Farm System Reform Act is supported by more than 300 diverse groups, including the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Food & Water Watch, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Additionally, more than 100 farmers across the country have signed onto a letter endorsing the bill as a critical solution that would revitalize independent agriculture and uplift farmers and rural communities. The coalition is asking the public to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to cosponsor and pass the Farm System Reform Act.

Contact: Seth Gladstone – [email protected]

Food & Water Watch v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

Categories

Food System

To put it simply, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) permit in Idaho violates federal law and will let industrial-scale livestock operations off the hook. That’s why in June of 2020 Food & Water Watch and Snake River Waterkeeper filed suit against the EPA in the federal Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for violating the Clean Water Act by allowing factory farms to avoid mandatory pollution monitoring.

While this is an Idaho-specific permit, the groups believe that a legal win could have national impact. The CAFO General Permit is meant to ensure that factory farms comply with pollution restrictions that protect waterways for recreation, fishing, wildlife, and other uses. 

In Idaho alone, there are several hundred factory farms that produce vast quantities of pollutants like E.coli, nitrogen, phosphorus, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals. This industry, which remains largely unregulated, has contributed to the 2,000 miles of streams and rivers that are now considered impaired by pollutants commonly associated with factory farm waste. 

The federal Clean Water Act is meant to control pollution from CAFOs and other “point source” dischargers through a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that relies on self-monitoring and reporting of discharges.

EPA has let CAFOs off the hook with the Idaho General Permit by failing to include meaningful pollution monitoring requirements.

“Factory farms have flocked to Idaho to take advantage of lax oversight and industry-friendly politicians, with the predictable results of more pollution, degraded lakes and rivers, and fewer sustainable, small-scale family farms. EPA’s permit will allow this pollution to continue unabated by making it all but impossible to hold CAFOs accountable for illegal pollution, in clear violation of the Clean Water Act and EPA’s own regulations.” 

Tyler Lobdell, Staff Attorney for Food & Water Watch

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New Mexico Organizer

Contact Email: [email protected]

Post Date: 02.1.21

Job Type: Employee

Office Location: Work Remotely

Department: Organizing

Job Description: 

The Organizer for New Mexico will report to the Senior Organizer for New Mexico and will work with other national organizing staff, regional field staff, and policy/research staff to support FWW’s campaigns to ban fracking and factory farming. The Organizer will be responsible for implementing campaign plans, working with volunteers, organizing sign on letters, petitions, and social media outreach. NOTE: Priority consideration will be given to candidates living in New Mexico and/or who have experience working in New Mexico. This is a Bargaining Unit/Union Position. 

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Build a strong base of organizations and individuals in support of our campaigns, with a particular emphasis on petitions and social media outreach and in person volunteer activities once safe.
  • Work with a team on executing long- and short-term goals, strategies and tactics.
  • Work closely with volunteers, team members, and partner organization to develop and implement joint strategies.
  • Participate in coalitions on campaign issues and implement grassroots organizing and public education campaigns.
  • Speak at public events, forums, and other venues, and serve as a representative of Food & Water Watch to the public and the media.
  • Assist in building the capacity and leadership of volunteers.
  • Maintain familiarity with a diverse set of issues, research products, and FWW’s suite of digital organizing tools, and respond to information and support requests from activists, coalition members, and the media.
  • Develop educational materials such as factsheets, action alerts, web site content and newsletter articles on various campaign issues. Maintain activist database and email lists to effectively communicate to members and supporters.
  • Regularly report on work to supervisors and donors.
  • Participate and/or develop non-partisan electoral strategies and tactics for either/both Food and Water Watch (c3) and Food and Water Action (c4).
  • Participate in membership recruitment and fundraising for Food & Water Action/Watch.
  • Support Our Culture of Philanthropy: Demonstrate an understanding of the essential role of our members and supporters, and consistently serve as an ambassador for FWW/FWA and our work. Participate in or attend events and other activities as appropriate that are organized for our supporters and donors. Be cognizant of fundraising opportunities and share contacts and information that will help build and sustain FWW/FWA.
  • Carry out other projects as assigned.

To perform this job successfully, the person in this position is expected to develop a complete understanding of FWW’s Strategic Organizing model and an ability to develop campaign strategy. The Organizer will be expected to work closely with volunteers and allied organizations to ensure campaigns are moving forward to achieve programmatic goals.

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.                                                                                            

Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree or combination of relevant education and experience. One year of full-time experience organizing. Clear demonstration of ability to develop effective organizing strategies.

Computer Skills: An individual should be able to work in a computerized environment and have adequate knowledge of word processing, email, internet and spreadsheet software and Zoom; in particular have coursework or certification in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point and proficiency with all other Microsoft Office products.

Compensation: Annualized at $40,000-$46,200, dependent upon experience and based on labor market.

Click here to apply. Please include your resume, cover letter and three professional references to be considered.

We will review your application and if we feel that your knowledge, skills and abilities are potentially a good match for our organization, we will be in contact with you. Please include a Cover Letter with your submission. Position open until filled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Food & Water Watch (FWW) strives for a diverse work environment and encourages women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities to apply.

Food & Water Watch is committed to the health and safety of its staff members. Moreover, FWW, as an organization, promotes science-based policy. Science clearly shows that unvaccinated populations drive the spread of the coronavirus and the emergence of new variants, and that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract COVID and experience severe symptoms. Effective immediately, prospective new staff members are required to provide proof of vaccination or request a waiver as a condition of their offer of employment.

Help us fix our broken systems and stand up against corporate control. Submit your résumé today!

4. Create a Legacy

Create a Legacy

Make a gift that ensures a future for generations to come.

Your legacy protects our planet.

HASSAN ALLALI

Hassan Allali

IT Support

Washington, DC

LILY HAWKINS

Lily Hawkins

Maryland Organizer

Washington, DC

Allegheny County Organizer

Food & Water Action is working to create a healthy future for all people and generations to come—a world where everyone has food they can trust, clean drinking water and a livable climate. Making this happen requires involving people in the pressing issues of our time at the local, state, and federal level, building on one win after another, as we develop a larger movement that has the political power to make our democratic process work.

Contact Email: [email protected]

Post Date: 08.7.20

Job Type: Employee

Office Location: Work Remotely

Department: Organizing

Job Description: 

The Allegheny County Organizer will report to the Pennsylvania Organizing Manager and will work with other national organizing staff, regional field staff, and policy/research staff to support FWW’s work with community members and local elected officials in municipalities in Allegheny County to pass and enforce oil and gas zoning ordinances that will protect these communities from fracking. Specific projects will include organizing actions, tracking data, community outreach, building relationships, and volunteer leadership development. NOTE:  Southwestern PA residency is required.  The Organizer will have 5 main responsibilities: 

  1. Advance Municipal Outreach Project strategy
    1. Help development campaign strategy for these communities
    2. Develop and carry out tactics that will move forward this strategy, and bottomline the rollout of these tactics
  2. Build grassroots volunteer infrastructure
    1. Recruit and support volunteers in effective actions
    2. Maintain campaign data
    3. Develop volunteer roles that will advance our campaign strategy, and build volunteers’ investment in our campaign by plugging them into these roles
  3. Represent Food & Water Watch
    1. Represent Food & Water Watch at public events and with local media
    2. Participate in membership recruitment and fundraising for Food & Water Watch
  4. Build coalition: Maintain close relationships with and engage local coalition allies
  5. Other duties as required

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

1.         Build a strong base of organizations and individuals in support of our campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the Municipal Ordinance Project and fracking.

2.         Work with a team to develop strategic campaign plans including long- and short-term goals, strategies and tactics.

3.         Work closely with team and partner organization to develop and implement joint strategies.

4.         Participate in coalitions on campaign issues and implement grassroots organizing and public education campaigns.

5.         Speak at public events, forums, and other venues, and serves as a representative of Food & Water Action/Watch to the public and the media. 

6.         Assist in building the capacity and leadership of volunteers and allied grassroots organizations by offering training and organizing support. 

7.         Maintain familiarity with a diverse set of issues, research products, and FWW’s suite of digital organizing tools, and respond to information and support requests from activists, coalition members, and the media.

8.         Develop educational materials such as factsheets, action alerts, web site content and newsletter articles on various campaign issues. Maintain activist database and email lists to effectively communicate to members and supporters. 

9.         Regularly report on work to supervisors and donors.

10.       Participate and/or develop non-partisan electoral strategies and tactics for either/both Food and Water Watch (c3) and Food and Water Action (c4).

11.       Participate in membership recruitment and fundraising for Food & Water Action/Watch.

12.       Support Our Culture of Philanthropy: Demonstrate an understanding of the essential role of our members and supporters, and consistently serve as an ambassador for FWW/FWA and our work. Participate in or attend events and other activities as appropriate that are organized for our supporters and donors. Be cognizant of fundraising opportunities and share contacts and information that will help build and sustain FWW/FWA.

13.       Carry out other projects as assigned.

To perform this job successfully, the person in this position is expected to have a complete understanding of FWW’s Strategic Organizing model and an ability to develop campaign strategy. The Organizer will be expected to work closely with volunteers and allied organizations to ensure campaigns are moving forward to achieve programmatic goals.

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions:                                                                   

Education/Experience: Bachelor’s Degree or combination of relevant education and experience. One year of full-time experience organizing. Clear demonstration of ability to develop effective organizing strategies.

Computer Skills: An individual should be able to work in a computerized environment and have adequate knowledge of word processing, email, internet and spreadsheet software; in particular have coursework or certification in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point and proficiency with all other Microsoft Office products.

Compensation: Annualized at  $40,000 – $46,200, dependent upon experience and based on labor market.  

Click here to apply. Please include your resume, cover letter and three professional references to be considered.

We will review your application and if we feel that your knowledge, skills and abilities are potentially a good match for our organization, we will be in contact with you. Position open until filled. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Food & Water Watch strives for a diverse work environment and encourages women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and individuals with disabilities to apply.  

3. STOPPING THE PRIVATIZATION OF A PUBLIC RIGHT

Categories

Clean Water

Stopping the privatization of a public right

Water is a human right — corporations have no business managing public utilities.

Public ownership ensures our water systems are safe and affordable for everyone.

Guide to Safe Tap Water and Water Filters

Categories

Clean Water

Drinking tap water should be safe, affordable, and taste good. Follow our guide to check your tap water quality and find the best filtration system for you.

The word is out: bottled water can be bad for our wallets, our health and our environment. If you’re among the growing number of people kicking the bottled water habit and making the move to tap water, you may be curious about your local water supply. Consumer standards are actually more stringent for the quality and safety of tap water than for bottled water.

We need to make tap water safe and affordable for everyone. Sign the petition for safe water for all!

The best way to find out about your local water is to read your water quality report, a document that your water utility is required by federal law to provide to you every year telling you if your water has any contamination. This guide will help you understand how to interpret what your report tells you.

Beyond basic safety, many people prefer to filter their tap water to remove minerals and particulates, which may affect the taste. We’ll walk you through the different types of tap water filters and help you pick the best one for your needs.

Is Your Water Safe? Your Water Quality Report

Annual water quality reports, also called consumer confidence reports, are intended to help consumers make informed choices about their drinking water. They let you know what contaminants, if any, are in your drinking water and how these contaminants may affect your health. They list all the regulated toxins that were detected in your water over the preceding calendar year. This guide will help you understand what’s in your water quality report and how to interpret what it tells you.

Who Gets a Water Quality Report?

A water quality report is available for every customer of a community water system, which is one that provides year-round service to more than 15 households or more than 25 people.

When Is a Water Quality Report Issued?

You should receive your report by July 1 of each year.

What Does a Water Quality Report Tell You?

Every water quality report must contain:

  • The source of the drinking water, be it a river, lake, groundwater aquifer or some other body of water;
  • A brief summary of the state’s source water assessment, which measures how susceptible the source water is to contamination, and how to get a copy of the complete assessment;
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and health goals for drinking water contaminants;
  • A list of all detected regulated contaminants and their levels;
  • Potential health effects of any contaminant detected at a level that violates the EPA’s health standard;
  • An educational statement for people with weakened immune systems about cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants;
  • Contact information for the water system and the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

Worried about lead? Make sure you get the right water filter.

The crisis in Flint, Michigan has brought attention to the serious problem of lead in drinking water. Fortunately, a water filter that is either NSF/ANSI Standard 53 or NSF/ANSI Standard 58 certified can reduce lead in your drinking water. These certifications are established by NSF International, a public health organization that develops standards and providing certifications with the mission to improve global human health.

These certified filters come in different shapes and sizes. Certification requires that manufacturers state how much water the filter can treat before it must be changed. Some filters even include a device that will let you know when the filter needs to be changed. When changing filter cartridges, it’s important to use a certified cartridge. A non-certified cartridge may not effectively filter lead from the drinking water.

There are a variety of filter options that meet the NSF’s certified standard. Outlined below, these filters include: pour-through pitchers/carafes, faucet mounts, and even plumbed-in filters that are installed under your sink or reverse osmosis drinking water treatment systems.

On the NSF website at www.nsf.org you can search for specific suppliers and product codes to see if they are NSF certified. Their lead specific guide provides a list of all NSF Standard certified brands and models with details for each: www.nsf.org/info/leadfiltrationguide.

Why Is a Water Quality Report Important?

Your water utility is required by law to tell you about any violation of EPA water quality standards when it occurs (through the mail or media outlets such as newspapers and television) and again in the annual water quality report. You should not drink water that fails to meet EPA standards because it may be unsafe. Thankfully, public utilities have worked hard to improve water quality. As a result, more than 90 percent of water systems meet all EPA regulations.

The report must also disclose a list of all regulated contaminants that have been detected in the water supply. The Safe Drinking Water Act sets the maximum level of contaminants allowed in drinking water based on the filtering and treatment capabilities of current technology. The water quality report also tells you about potentially harmful substances found in your water at levels below their legal limit.

How Is a Water Quality Report Distributed?

All very large community water systems, serving more than 100,000 people, must post the report online. All community water systems that serve more than 10,000 people must mail or email either the report or its web address to customers.

Water systems also must make a “good faith effort” to reach renters, workers and other consumers who use the water but do not receive water bills. Utilities should use a combination of different outreach methods to notify users, such as posting the reports online, mailing them and advertising in local newspapers.

More information is available online from the EPA.

Tap Water Filters and Filtration Systems

The United States provides some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, and more than 90 percent of water systems meet all EPA regulations. Some people may prefer to filter their tap water, however, because they prefer the taste, want to remove minerals and particulates or have concerns about lead piping and plumbing. This section highlights the types of available filters to help you to determine which one is best for your needs.

What to Consider When Buying a Water Filter

What impurities do you want to remove from your water? Are you concerned about health risks, or simply unappetizing tastes and odors? Different filters are designed to remove various impurities, so be sure that the filter you buy will do the job.

Once you have read your water quality report, determine what, if anything, you would like to filter out of your water. Depending on the water quality where you live, you may decide that you do not need to filter your water at all.

Water Filtration: What Are Your Options?

Water filters come in many shapes and sizes. Depending on your filtration needs, lifestyle preferences and budget, you may want to consider the following options, whose descriptions were adapted from a May 2010 Consumer Reports article:

  • Carafe, or “pour-through,” filters are the simplest water filters to use. The filter fits inside a pitcher that you can keep in your refrigerator. Carafes are inexpensive and easy to use. However, the filters have a short lifetime and can only filter a limited amount of water at a time.
  • A faucet-mounted filter is exactly what it sounds like — a filter that is screwed directly on to your faucet. These filters require minimal installation, but they slow the flow of water and can’t be used on all faucets.
  • Countertop filters are best for filtering large quantities of water without modifying plumbing. They’re less likely to clog than carafe or faucet-mounted filters, but can clutter countertops and can’t be used with all types of faucets.
  • Plumbed-in filters are installed directly into an existing water pipe. Often, they are installed under the sink (and are sometimes referred to as “under-sink” filters). They can be plumbed-in to the existing sink faucet, which may require drilling a hole in the countertop, or they can dispense water through a separate tap. These filters are best for filtering large amounts of water without modifying the existing faucet or cluttering the counter. However, they take up cabinet space and require plumbing modifications.
  • Point-of-entry, or “whole-house,” filters are installed directly in the water main and filter all the water in a house, including water for the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms. These filters have a long lifetime and are an inexpensive way to remove sediment, rust and, in some cases, chlorine from household water. But most won’t remove most other contaminants. They also require professional installation.

Water Filter Technologies

Different water filter products use different technologies. Some use more than one. If you are looking for a home water filter, you are likely to come across some of these terms:

  • Particulate/mechanical filter: These are simple screens that block large particles. They often function as “prefilters” in a multiple-step water filter.
  • Adsorption/Activated Carbon: Adsorption refers to a physical process where particles in water are removed because they stick to the surface of the material in the filter. These filters are usually made with carbon, often in granulated or powdered form. They are the most common filters on the market and come in different forms including pitchers and faucet-mounted systems. They are generally effective for reducing the most typical worrisome compounds that can be found in municipal water: chlorine, chlorine byproducts and dissolved volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) such as pesticides and herbicides. Carbon adsorption filters generally work well for reducing bad odors and tastes.
  • Softeners/Ion Exchange Units: Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to reduce hard metals — including lead — in water. When water passes through an ion exchange unit, hard metal ions are replaced by sodium ions, leaving the water “softer” as a result — but also saltier. This technology is often used in combination with adsorptive or reverse-osmosis filters. Potassium chloride water softeners work in a similar way to sodium chloride softeners, but without increasing levels of salt in the water; this makes potassium chloride softeners a better choice for some uses, such as watering plants.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) Treatment: This treatment uses UV light to kill germs that may be present in the water. UV treatment is the only treatment certified by the National Sanitation Foundation International to reduce bacteria.
  • Reverse Osmosis: Reverse osmosis is a process where water is forced through a membrane that filters out molecules physically larger than the water molecules. Although reverse osmosis works well for reducing minerals, it is not effective for chlorine or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are more likely to be concerns in municipal tap water. However, many reverse-osmosis units are combined with pre-filters and carbon filters to address this concern. Reverse-osmosis filters are expensive and very inefficient — they waste from one to three gallons of water for every gallon that they filter.
  • Distillation: Water distillers heat water so that it turns into steam, which is then collected and returned to its liquid form. Contaminants are left behind when the water evaporates. Thus, distillation is very effective for removing most minerals and bacteria. However, some distillation units do not remove VOCs. Distillation also requires more energy than other methods, to heat the water.

Consider Which Filter Is Best for You

Each product has its own pros and cons. Individual products may use multiple technologies and are often marketed as two (or more) stage filters. Carafe, faucet-mounted and countertop filters typically use a combination of adsorption and ion exchange resins, while plumbed-in systems may use those technologies in addition to reverse osmosis.

Filters also come in a wide range of prices. Most carafes and faucet-mounted filters cost between $20 and $50, while countertop, under-sink and whole-house filters can range from $50 to $900.

When considering the price of a water filter, remember that the total cost includes your initial purchase price as well as any installation, maintenance or replacement fees. Filter parts need to be changed periodically to prevent clogging, so be sure to consider how much replacement parts cost, as well as the manufacturer’s estimated life span for the product.

Also consider the amount of water you use. Some filter types have larger water capacities than others. Carafes, for example, can filter a few cups or gallons at a time, while faucet-mounted or under-sink filters work directly through a tap.

Most importantly, make sure that the individual product reduces the specific contaminants that you want to remove from your water. Generally, products will include claims on their packaging or advertising regarding which contaminants they reduce and the percentage reduction rate. See the table below for more information about common contaminants of concern and which type of filter will reduce the contaminants.

Water Quality Concerns and Filtration Methods*

Contaminant/Quality ConcernFiltration MethodNotes
ChlorineCarbon/Charcoal FilterContact your local water utility to find out which disinfectant is used in your drinking water. Water filters certified to reduce chlorine do not necessarily work for chloramine.
Chlorine Byproducts (Trihalomethanes)Carbon/Charcoal FilterTrihalomethanes are a type of VOC (volatile organic compound), so products certified to reduce VOCs will reduce this contaminant.
Taste and OdorCarbon/Charcoal Filter 
LeadCarbon, Distillation, Reverse Osmosis 
FluorideDistillation, Reverse OsmosisNot all public drinking water systems add fluoride to the water. Check to see if your community does by reading your annual water quality report.
ChloraminesSome Carbon/Charcoal FiltersCheck that the system you select is certified to reduce chloramines. Systems that reduce chlorine do not necessarily reduce chloramines.
PerchloratesReverse Osmosis 
ArsenicDistillation, Reverse OsmosisTwo different forms of arsenic can be found in water, so it is important to know which type of arsenic you want to filter before choosing a water treatment system.

*Information taken from National Sanitation Foundation’s Contaminant Guide. Please note that filters and treatment systems should be certified by a third party agency. Check to ensure that the brand of filter you choose is certified to address your water quality needs.

Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

Consumers are increasingly concerned about pharmaceutical residues and other hormone disrupting chemicals in drinking water. These chemicals are not regulated, but studies have shown that they are showing up in trace amounts in drinking water. According to the National Sanitation Foundation, there is no testing available at this time to measure the potential ability of home water treatment systems to reduce pharmaceuticals.

Verify the Quality of Your Filter

Make sure that your filter is certified by an independent certifying agency. Not all filters live up to the claims on the package, so make sure that the product you are buying does. The packaging should display certification from an independent certifying agency such as the National Sanitation Foundation International or Water Quality Association.

Check the internet for product reviews, and make sure the reviewer is impartial. The best reviews and ratings come from organizations that do not sell the products, such as Consumer Reports. Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, a nonprofit organization that provides consumers with unbiased product tests and ratings.