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Are you planning to buy a water filter for use in the UK, for travelling through Greece or for filtering from India’s backwaters? Either way, if you’re entrusting your health, performance and life to a water filter/purifier, why risk the uncertainty of it not working effectively in either one of those environments.
In an unregulated world of portable water filters and purifiers where no one unified standard exists, what should you be looking for? Manufacturers of these products don’t make it easy for you, often retailers are not sufficiently informed or necessarily stocking the right water filter for your needs and with so many YouTube videos on the subject, we aim to demystify the marketing slogans, claims and subjective opinions to help you make a more informed choice.
Due to there being no independent regulatory body to oversee the sale of these products, when manufacturers do undergo testing they tend to only pick the parts of a standard that showcase their product in the best light. Just because a product is advertised to remove bacteria and viruses, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will, to the level needed for the environment you’re in.
1. Ask for a published Independent test certificate that proves microbial removal
If you cannot find it on the website, ask the manufacturer to show you their test certificate which proves microbial removal. Your water filter and purifier should be tested to a known, relevant standard. We advise protocol NSF P231, which is a test of microbiological water purifiers. Some water filters/purifiers available on the market only test for aesthetic affects only – the ability of the filter to improve taste and smell – not it’s ability to remove harmful contaminants!
As an absolute minimum a water filter/purifier should remove 99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of cysts. This is the Environmental Protection Agency standard for microbial removal.
2. Check the product has undergone a ‘Challenge Test’
The assumption is that all filters and purifiers perform the same in all water conditions. Surely if a water filter/purifier removes viruses, bacteria and cysts in clear water it will perform to the same standard in dirty murky water? The answer is no, it won’t. In reality, the make-up of the water can wildly affect the effectiveness of a water filter/purifier. The NSF specifies a ‘Challenge Test’ for all filters/purifiers.
A ‘Challenge Test’ means a filter/purifier has been tested to remove harmful contaminants from worst-case water. Worst-case water is simulated sewerage infected dirty river water, with high PH, high levels of total organic carbon (TOC), high turbidity (NTU), low temperature and high total dissolved solids (TDS).
If your filter has not been put to the test with worst-case water, don’t trust it to perform for you in the field with turbid, discoloured water.
3. Buy a product that tells you when it’s no longer filtering and purifying effectively
Ultrafiltration is the most robust and reliable form of filtration / purification available, and the method used globally in municipal water treatment plants. Hollow fibre membrane is the filtration medium and put simply, the membrane presents a physical barrier and stops virus, bacteria and cysts in their tracks (as the holes are extremely tiny). Ultrafiltration ensures that when the filter can no longer purify, it stops providing water, protecting you from contaminated water.
Other filters and purifiers available on the market use absorptive technology. Absorptive technology performs like fly paper, it attracts nasties but because it doesn’t shut down between filter replacements, you have no idea of knowing if the water you’re filtering is actually being purified to a clean standard. What an absorptive filter removes on day 1 might not be the same as what it removes on day 3. It may look clear, but is it clean drinking water?
You absolutely need to know when your product is no longer filtering effectively.
Before you buy!
Before you invest it’s wise to thoroughly check out the following:
This article has been written by LIFESAVER – experts in the field who have been manufacturing and selling a range of portable water filters and purifiers for almost 10 years. Our mission is to provide cleaner, safer water that can be relied on, no matter the situation. 2017, marks our 10th year and the launch of our brand new ultrafiltration purifier. Watch this space!