Introduction (for those new to this website):
Tamara Rubin is a federal-award-winning independent advocate for consumer goods safety and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children, her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005. Since 2009 Tamara has been using XRF testing (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals), including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic. All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times, to confirm the test results for each component. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023.
Posted: December 5, 2015
Q. What kind of water filtration system do you have in your home?
A. By the husband! Leonard Rubin
We get questions about water filters quite a lot, but now more than ever since the water crisis in Flint is in the news. In response, Tamara and I, when asked, often share about the products we have chosen for our own home (FWIW).
For those new to our page, we live in Portland, Oregon. Here in Portland, we have to deal with Lead, occasional biologicals, and municipally-added Chloramine in our local water system.
There is Lead in everything, from the city-owned pipes and meters with brass fittings to old Lead pipes in many houses and older Lead-soldered copper pipes in others — plus, of course, Leaded brass in most faucets and fittings (even in newer homes).
As a result of legislation passed under the most recent Bush Administration — modern pipes, fittings, and fixtures could be labeled “Lead-free” as long as they contained less than 8% Lead. Subsequent legislation passed and made effective in the last couple of years updated this standard and made it so that pipes, fittings, and fixtures manufactured in 2016 and later have to comply with the latest standards (standards originally set by the State of California and determined to be protective of children’s health) and so are usually a good choice!
Fortunately, we do not have to also deal with fluoride as an additive here in Portland (as fluoride in combination with chloramine can leach lead into the water from these sources at an increased rate — resulting in increases of bio-available Lead in the water by as much as 800%). (We especially have concerns about Lead in the water in our public school systems here, as those Lead hazards have long been identified and quantified — yet the school district has not taken consistent action to make sure the water in the schools’ drinking fountains is safe for children. A separate post on that will be linked here shortly.)
Currently, we use filtered water in our kitchen only as (given our b. 1905 home) the cost of whole-house filtration was cost-prohibitive for us. We cook with filtered water, only drink filtered water, and make sure each child is sent to school each day with a full water bottle (we use stainless or glass with silicone cozy) of fresh filtered water.
As our personal awareness of this issue has grown along with our knowledge base – and as our finances have permitted – we have evolved through a few different generations of water filtration products/systems.
This is a picture of the water filtration system we currently use (with the included faucet and filter wrench). Every water source and delivery system is a bit different and calls for a system that is tailored to individual specific needs.
(Example: In our case for instance, as I said, while fluoride is not present, Lead, the occasional biologicals [we had a city-wide e-coli scare here in Portland a couple of years back], and chloramine are.)
For our home, we selected a 3-filter system, which as it turns out, cost less than half of what our previous very expensive highly-polished stainless steel housing, single cartridge system did! At $399 (and with promotions that can reduce that price to as low as $249) this seemed like a great system for the money – and it takes widely-available, more affordable industry-standard size filters. We also paid an extra $29 to upgrade the faucet to a “premium” model at the time of purchase.
These are the cartridges we chose for our house (yours will vary, according to your particular water issues):
- Chloramines CH
The cartridges we use are high-flow, and they are rated at “3-5 years”; we change ours every 3 years.
We keep a spare set on hand and reorder when we replace them; replacement cartridges run us about $175 for a “set” of all three.
Please comment below if you have any questions.
Leonard (& Tamara) Rubin