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When your child drinks a glass of water, you want to know that it is as pure and safe as it looks. You know about the danger of contaminants in tap water, which is why you take the trouble to buy a water filter. A good quality water filter ensures that the water in your child's glass is safe to drink.

But how confident are you that your water filter is of good quality? Many people might be surprised and a little alarmed to hear that a cheap, poor quality water filter can do more harm than good.

The State of California recognised this danger when, in 2009, it introduced legislation insisting that water filter manufacturers meet stringent safety guidelines. This was a response to the discovery that if sufficient care is not taken in the manufacturing process, arsenic can leak from the charcoal in the filter and be swallowed by the drinker.

Arsenic is a tasteless, colourless toxic metal which can build up in the body and cause cancer, birth defects, and other serious health issues.

With properly made filters from a major brand you know you are safe. But in an age where products are piled high and sold cheaply on the Internet by traders who are here one day and gone the next, how can you be sure that the filter you buy is genuine? And what of the cut-price filters you sometimes see advertised? How do they compare?

Fortunately, just as with any other product you buy, there are effective measures you can take to ensure the quality of your filter. The main one is to buy from a long established and reputable supplier. Someone who has a reputation to protect, and who plans on being around for many years to come. Buying a recognised branded product from an established supplier gives you the strongest possible degree of confidence in the quality and genuine nature of the product you are getting.

As for cut-price and unbranded filters, generally in life you get what you pay for. If you buy from a trader registered for six months on one of the online markets, you simply cannot be sure whether the product is genuine, or where it was made.

A product that claims to be branded but comes at an improbably low price is bound to raise suspicion, because genuine filters are made to exacting standards and are inherently not 'cheap.' To be able to sell one at a price that undercuts known reputable suppliers begs the question  -  how does the cost come to be so low?

Anything that you buy online at cut price may turn out to be good, or it may potentially be harmful. The trouble with a water filter is that you cannot tell just by looking at it whether it is safe or not. And nor can you necessarily tell by drinking the water it produces. Arsenic, remember, is colourless and tasteless.

Most water filters are safe, and most which claim to be branded are genuine. But the worrying thing is that unless you buy from a supplier you can trust, you have no way of knowing for sure whether yours is one of the few that are not. If saving a few pounds on a filter that lasts months is the most important consideration when you make a purchase, that is fine. If a guarantee of safe, clean and toxic free water for you and your family is more important, then you may be better off sticking to a branded product from a reputable supplier.


Based on ARSENIC AND OLD LAWS, a February 2000 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.