Saturday, November 22, 2008

FAQ - Will Water Purification Filters Remove Pharmaceutical Drugs?

Interview with Tim Hickey from

Most water filters have not yet been tested to determine if and to what extent pharmaceuticals will be removed. Also, test results can be misleading. The tests normally often don't indicate how long that level of filtration will last when the filters are put to work.

The filters sold by are designed to remove contaminants, and do so very effectively. This includes not only those contaminants that were identified at some past time, but the new ones showing up in our water. In our standard single-canister kitchen filter there is kdf which removes chemical contaminants and granulated carbon which removes organic contaminants. The drugs found in our water are either one or the other. Some specific additives to the water require additional filtering; that's why we add an extra canister for fluoride or for chloramines or nitrates.

The line of filters we sell at was chosen because we believe it is the best filtration available. In a 2-canister FLUORIDE PLUS kitchen system for example, there is a full 1 1/2 pounds of activated alumina, which is the most we have seen in any brand of filters. In the second canister there is sufficient kdf to remove those contaminants kdf is best for, and there is a full pound of top-quality pre-washed granulated carbon. These amounts are balanced so that you will have effective filtering for a full year.

Question: Have you or anyone tested filters to prove that these filters do remove pharmaceuticals and if so, for how long? I didn't think any filter could do this. If your filters do, I am very excited.

Response from Tim Hickey at Friends Of Water:

I tried in the article to accurately describe the situation and what our filters can and can't do regarding pharmaceuticals. We are not aware of any serious testing yet. So we must be guarded in any claims we make. Granulated carbon will remove a lot of organic contaminants. The carbon doesn’t 'know' if they are drugs or not, it just goes about removing VOCs. Similarly, the kdf will remove a lot of chemical contaminants. Drugs are one or the other. So yes, the filters will remove these things. What we can't know with assurance is how much of everything will be removed. There are far too many variables, in addition to the lack of real testing to this point.

I'll use Ecoli as an example. On average our filters will remove in the area of 90% of it. But that isn't all of it, and we must be very careful about misleading people to think we can assure complete safety. More to the point is that the filters will do a lot, and we would be better off to have the filtering in place.

Source: Friends of Water newsletter, The WaterFall, November 2008

Sources: To Your Health – August 2007:

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