The Potential Dangers Of Cheaper Refrigerator Water Filters

September 21, 2018

© Helder Almeida | Dreamstime

Replacing your refrigerator's water filter is not cheap.  With many name-brand filters costing as much as $60 every six months, you've probably sought out cheaper alternatives. The problem is that you have no way of knowing whether the cheaper alternatives actually work. In 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 100,000 counterfeit water filters entering the country and many of those counterfeits pose a potential health concern. But it is not that difficult spotting legitimate water filters as they are most likely certified to international quality and safety standards. You can identify them with the NSF and/or ANSI acronyms. The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and are independent non-profit organizations that develop and oversees public health and safety standards. Both organizations suggest three numerical standards you should look for when making a refrigerator water filter purchase. They are 42, 53 and 401. 42 covers material safety, which guarantees the physical components of the filter won’t leach contaminants such as arsenic into your water and ice. This is also the standard to look for if you want to remove chlorine, taste, and odors. 53 covers a hodge-podge of health-related contaminants that includes everything from lead to parasites to asbestos. 401 covers trace pharmaceuticals and chemicals, from ibuprofen to BPA to DEET. But just as counterfeiters create fake filters, they also can slap on fake ratings, symbols and claims. So to know for sure about an aftermarket filter works or not is to check your chosen filter’s certification records to those of the Water Quality Association (WQA), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) or the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) databases to see which of the list of contaminants it actually removes. To find those records, you’ll need to search through each organization’s certification database. At the very least when it comes to safety, you’ll want to make sure any refrigerator filter you use at least passes NSF’s material safety and structural integrity tests under NSF/ANSI 42. Because if it doesn’t, it could be doing more harm than good.

Water Quality Association (WQA) database

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) database

National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) database

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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