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Danger on Tap? Good Housekeeping Reports on the Unregulated Chemicals That May Be in Your Water, and Partners With the University of Arizona for First-Ever Test of Water FiltersIn the March Issue, Now on Newsstands Nationwide (February 15, 2012)
NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 02/15/12 -- Hormones, drugs, chemicals found in gasoline and pesticides are among hundreds of contaminants that could be flowing from your faucet. And they are not on the government's list of contaminants to regulate, so they won't appear on your water report. Even at low levels, no one knows how dangerous these chemicals might be when mixed together or consumed over a lifetime. But there are already troubling signs: male fish exposed to common hormones that lose their ability to reproduce and, possibly, higher rates of prostate cancer in countries with higher use of birth control pills (where the chemicals possibly leak into ground water).
To help consumers take their safety into their own hands, Good Housekeeping partnered with the Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants at the University of Arizona, one of the world's leading labs for study of unregulated chemicals. Together with the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the lab performed extensive testing -- the first-ever such analysis -- to see whether everyday filters found in water pitchers and refrigerators can remove these chemicals.
Good Housekeeping also reported on risks from chemicals that are regulated -- which can and do slip through cracks in the system. In 2010, for example, 10% of all community water systems, serving more than 23 million people, sold water to consumers that violated at least one health-based standard of the Environmental Protection Agency. To see how well home contaminant-detection kits work, the magazine's Research Institute joined forces with the Water Sciences Laboratory at the University of Nebraska to test home contaminant-detection kits. The results of both sets of testing are featured in the magazine's March issue and at http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/tapwater.
"We've spent more than a year on our in-depth investigation of what's in your water that you don't -- but should -- know about," said Rosemary Ellis, Good Housekeeping editor in chief. "Good Housekeeping's mission has always been to protect consumers -- for us, it started more than a hundred years ago with warnings about food contaminants, and this is the modern-day equivalent. The filters that we're recommending have gone through rigorous evaluations and we are happy to report that they work."
To test the filters, the Arizona laboratory spiked Tucson, AZ, municipal water with 15 contaminants of concern that have all been found in drinking water. Then, to simulate the weeks or months of use that pitcher and fridge filters would get in a real home, the researchers passed gallons and gallons of contaminated water through each device until it reached the manufacturer's estimated filter lifetime.
The results: refrigerator filters worked best, and some pitcher-style filters worked to some degree.
- GE MSWF Refrigerator Filter, $41: The filter removed above 92% for all contaminants except BPA, which was above 90% on all readings but the first two (75% and 81%). It works with some of the most popular models of GE refrigerators. The filter's life span is six months or 300 gallons.
- Whirlpool Filter 1 Refrigerator Filter, $40: The filter removed above 92% for all contaminants. It works with some of the most popular models of Whirlpool refrigerators, as well as some under its Maytag and Amana brands. The filter's life span is six months or 200 gallons.
- ZeroWater 8-Cup Pitcher, $35: The filter removed above 95% of estrone, PFOA, PFOS, fluoxetine, BPA, ibuprofen; above 80% of atrazine, tonalide, TCEP, DEET, and all other drugs but primidone (73%). Since our testing, the company has modified the filter to speed up its flow rate, which may affect its performance.
- Pur CR-6000 7-Cup Pitcher, $15: The filter removed all estrone, above 71% of all drugs, as well as PFOS, and above 80% of DEET, tonalide, TCEP, and BPA. It removed atrazine, sucralose and PFOA slightly less effectively than other contaminants (under 65% at the end of filter's life). The filter's life span is two months or 40 gallons.
- Brita Riviera 8-Cup Pitcher, $35: The filter removed above 60% for all contaminants except PFOA (55%) and sucralose (49%), but for only half the filter's life. Throughout the filter's life, its removal rate for all contaminants decreased more sharply than those of the others tested. The filter's life span is two months or 40 gallons.
To test the home contaminant-detection kits, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute worked with the Water Sciences Laboratory at the University of Nebraska -- Lincoln. Lab researchers used Lincoln, NE, tap water that had been analyzed for contaminants and water-quality conditions. They spiked water samples with the contaminants the manufacturers claimed to be able to detect, including two herbicides, nitrate, copper, lead, and bacteria. They then followed each kit's instructions to see how it performed, with the following results:
- First Alert Drinking Water Test, Model WT1, $17: With an overall detection accuracy of 8 of 9, it missed total chlorine.
- PurTest Home Water Analysis, Model P33, $40: With an overall detection accuracy of 10 of 12, it measured iron and alkalinity too high. It was also the easiest kit to use.
- Pro-Lab Water Quality Do It Yourself Test Kit, Model WQ105, $7: With an overall detection accuracy of 6 of 10, it missed copper and total chlorine, and measured alkalinity too low in one test and too high in another; hardness also came in too low.
- Complete Home Water Quality Test Kit, $25: With an overall accuracy of 4 of 13, it missed hardness, total chlorine, and copper; rated too low in its detection of iron and nitrate; and rated too high in chloride, sulfate, alkalinity, and free chlorine.
The full report, with tips on how to stay safe at home, information on how to read your water report, and greener living advice to help reduce the impact of chemicals on drinking water, are available in Good Housekeeping's March issue and at http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/tapwater.
About Good Housekeeping
Founded in 1885, Good Housekeeping magazine (www.goodhousekeeping.com) reaches nearly 25 million readers each month. In addition to the print title, there is The Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the consumer product evaluation laboratory of Good Housekeeping magazine. Founded in 1900 and continuing today with the same mission, the Research Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of consumers and their families through education and product evaluation. Only products evaluated by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute can be accepted for advertising in the magazine, and thereby become eligible to display the Good Housekeeping Seal, the hallmark that provides assurance to readers that the products advertised in the magazine are backed by a two-year limited warranty against being defective, with specified exceptions. In 2009, the Green Good Housekeeping Seal was introduced as an environmental overlay to the original Seal, offering consumers guidance on products making environmental claims. Readers can also interact with the brand on the digital front, with Good Housekeeping mobile (m.goodhousekeeping.com), at Goodhousekeeping.com and through its [email protected] iPhone app. In addition to its U.S. flagship, Good Housekeeping publishes 10 editions around the world. Good Housekeeping is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com), the largest publisher of monthly magazines in the U.S. (ABC 2011) and reaches 87 million adults (Spring 2011 MRI). Follow Good Housekeeping on Twitter at @goodhousemag, and the Good Housekeeping Research Institute @GHRI.
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