Whole house water filters

Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
351
Long Island, ny
So it’s coming out that this nice Long Island i live on has some water quality issues, not a huge deal because our taxes and living expenses are so low, NOT! It’s in other parts of country but we seem to have higher than national levels of dioxane 1,4. Also psoa? Seems the dioxane, I may be spelling these all wrong, is not really filterable by homeowners. I read somewhere that reverse osmosis May take away 50%.
So anybody have one, looking quick seems like majority are point of use via a tap at the sink, I wouldn’t wanna pay to wash the cars or water the lawn with filtered water anyway. Opens question about watering the veggie garden. Thoughts?
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,523
Northern NH
My guess is Dioxin and PFOA or PFA. Dioxin is a potentially nasty actor, you may have heard of Agent Orange used in Vietnam. PFOA/PFAs are a newer one. it was used in firefighting foams and is popping up near airports as well as near factories that do teflon coating. It is highly transportable in ground water. There is a lot of debate on the safe level with lawyers shooting for ultra low numbers to make it easy to sue. NH just passed some low levels for public water systems but it was thrown out of court due to lack of evidence for the lower numvers. In some ways its the new "asbestos" and it going to make a lot of lawyers rich.

Unless there is hazardous waste site nearby dioxins usually are airborne they are not soluble so the soil should filter it out and dont usually get into water supplies. PFOAs apparently are the opposite. In either case if your water is above the action level you need a custom solution for your specific water source. My suspicion is you will probably treat drinking water with RO or special ion exchange and use a different method for showers and sinks and no treatment for non potable like hoses and toilets.

Be aware some high pressure water treatment salesmen use nasty chemicals like these to sell expensive systems. They usually say something to the effect that your water may have a long list of nasties to get their foot in the door. Dioxins can be measured down to the parts per qunitrillion range although the actual level where is harmful is unknown. Vietnam vets and Vietnamese were basically getting soaked with liquid containing 50 parts per million and eating crops from soil drenched with it. BTW the biggest source of Dioxins in most areas are trash burners, another source is burning wood so if you are a wood burner you are producing minute amounts of dioxins. A far bigger source is backyard trash burners.
 
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ispinwool

Burning Hunk
Feb 5, 2010
203
Butler County, Pa.
As much as I agree with @Highbeam , if you can't drink it, you just can't drink it. I grew up on a farm with spring
water that was clean and tasted great. Then I moved into a little town with chlorinated water and couldn't
get it past my nose. It was treated and fell within the parameters of 'clean water' but it was nasty. I bought a
little counter-top steam distiller to see if it helped. The difference was amazing! No metallic taste and no odor.
Then we moved again (and added a few more kids) and we bought a 3 gallon capacity distiller that's plumbed into our water pipes. It's in the basement because it's fan is little noisy and it cranks out a bit of heat, but we have drinkable water. If you'd like to
see what is remaining in the 'cook pot' after distillation, I can post a pic....

p.s.--it's not plumbed into the taps...it fills, distills then shuts off when the 3 gallon reservoir is full. We bring it up to
the kitchen via jugs (which might be an issue for some folks but we are in the basement constantly anyway).
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,866
SW Virginia
Your water authority, the folks supplying your water, should be able to recommend treatment options. Activated carbon filters will generally remove organic compounds pretty well. Activated carbon filters are relatively inexpensive and all water passes through them for consumption. Reverse osmosis is more expensive and a considerable amount of water is "wasted" to make the filtered stuff. You probably only want to use RO water for consumption. Most RO systems are not the whole house type. Our filtration system uses particulate then activated carbon then RO. All water is treated except that going to the outdoor faucets. RO water is used only for the ice maker, the coffee pot and a tap at our kitchen sink drinking and cooking.
 
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stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
I have the great honor of living in the neighborhood currently holding the United States record for the highest (so far) recorded level of PFOA/PFOS in a residential drinking water well. And we're just a few miles away from the highest ever recorded ground water result (not from a drinking water well).

Our journey to clean water started 2+ years ago. It's been highly educational if nothing else.

Our neighborhood currently has been provided with between 1,000lbs and 2,000lbs of activated carbon (per home) with pre/post sediment filters and a UV lamp "back". The GAC effectively removes nearly 100% of PFOA/PFOS and most other nasty items. It will also remove Dioxin. It will not, however, remove some/most heavy metals such as lead.

Many of us run RO at our kitchen sinks as well. RO is not a feasible filtering method for full-house but it's great for point of use. RO gets nearly everything out of your water but it's slow, creates huge amounts of waste water and ultimately creates a heavily contaminated holding cell for the bad stuff (the membrane). Worth noting is that RO is not a healthy replacement for drinking water (exclusively) unless you add additional steps to put minerals back in the water. Bottled water is a better option than RO if that's all you'll be drinking.

Here's a picture of what $7,000 will get you (in Michigan). I'm tested every 12 weeks and for two+ years we've been non-detect for most everything both in the middle of the tanks as well as after both tanks. I run on a 4 tank, 1,000lbs system. My neighbors with the "really" high levels, above 10,000ppt, have 8 tanks, 2,000lbs of GAC.
 
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stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
Your water authority, the folks supplying your water, should be able to recommend treatment options. Activated carbon filters will generally remove organic compounds pretty well. Activated carbon filters are relatively inexpensive and all water passes through them for consumption. Reverse osmosis is more expensive and a considerable amount of water is "wasted" to make the filtered stuff. You probably only want to use RO water for consumption. Most RO systems are not the whole house type. Our filtration system uses particulate then activated carbon then RO. All water is treated except that going to the outdoor faucets. RO water is used only for the ice maker, the coffee pot and a tap at our kitchen sink drinking and cooking.
A water authority suggesting treatment options to homeowners on their system would be akin to them acknowledging a deficiency in their own filtering. Good luck getting that in writing! :):)
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,523
Northern NH
The claim in NH was that the state didnt test for PFOA/PFAs as the EPA set no limits on them. The manufacturers reportedly knew it was a potential issue long ago. GAC will take out a lot of nasties but hope that someone is paying the increased power bills, testing and replacement GAC. I think a similar treatment approach was used down at the old Pease air force base in Portsmouth NH as its water system was contaminated. In other areas they just extended the public water supply to home with wells.
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
I guess I didn't really help with the OP's question.

So this little bugger on your sink will make your drinking/cooking water wicked safe. You can find units that add "more stages" to add minerals back in if this is the only drinking water you'll ever use. I use the one below, as linked, without the mineral stage since we primarily use bottled water for drinking.

Amazon product
Your mileage may vary but if you care about the NSF rating you'll likely need to spend a bit more for that rating. My research leads me to believe that there are only a couple manufacturers in the world that make the membranes for these units, they are all functionally nearly identical and those companies that go for the NSF ratings are doing it for the marketing...mostly.

You can also buy a kit to make the above filter easily connect to your fridge ice maker.
 

Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
351
Long Island, ny
Thanks! And I thought there was a lot of info about what stove to buy! Water filtration, sheesh!!!
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,866
SW Virginia
Opens question about watering the veggie garden. Thoughts?
Some plants are actually quite good at removing some contaminants from soil and water. They can even be used to remove contamination in a process called phytoremediation. So I'd be careful with what soil and water you grow your veggies in. It may be best to collect rainwater and use it but there are no guarantees that rain is uncontaminated either.
 

Socratic Monologue

Burning Hunk
Dec 2, 2009
194
WI
I'm no chemist, but dioxin and dioxane are two distinct chemicals:

Apparently, RO filtration does not remove dioxane effectively:

It looks as if some types of GAC are fairly effective, although I believe the spent carbon is a disposal issue:

Some plants are actually quite good at removing some contaminants from soil and water. They can even be used to remove contamination in a process called phytoremediation. So I'd be careful with what soil and water you grow your veggies in. It may be best to collect rainwater and use it but there are no guarantees that rain is uncontaminated either.
Yes, it looks like dioxane uptake by plants is considerable:
 
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stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
I'm no chemist, but dioxin and dioxane are two distinct chemicals:

Apparently, RO filtration does not remove dioxane effectively:

It looks as if some types of GAC are fairly effective, although I believe the spent carbon is a disposal issue:



Yes, it looks like dioxane uptake by plants is considerable:
FWIW I would take wiki articles with a grain of salt. Many of these compounds are not yet regulated and not particularly well known. If you search the NSF database you'll find recommended filter media for Dioxins. Dioxins are a family, you won't find "dioxin" listed on a chemical list for filter effectiveness, Tetrachlorodibenzo-p is the most common bad guy out there from the Dioxin family.

Almost all RO filters you'll buy, including the one linked above, will have one or more stages of GAC included in the filter. The most important aspect of GAC is "dwell time" when it comes to many of these chemicals. It's why I have 1,000lbs of GAC in my basement. It's also why RO filters, in this application, are intentionally slow to recover.

And I have no idea what Dioxane is :)
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,866
SW Virginia
Water filtration, sheesh!!!
More like "Pollution, sheesh:("
We're now dealing with pollution in our environment that is much insidious than the smog, and burning rivers of the 60s. That's what makes it so damn scary.
PFOS contamination resulted from use of firefighting foams and such.
We put MTBE in gasoline to make it burn cleaner but polluted the groundwater by way of leaking underground storage tanks.
The drugs we're putting into our sewer systems by way of our bodies aren't removed in standard sewage treatment plants that dump to our rivers, and more importantly, the drinking water treatment plants that take water from those same rivers. I'm referring to contaminants like endocrine disrupters that cause problems at the genetic level.
And sodium from winter deicing salts is starting to show up in surface and ground water supplies in amounts that humans can taste and are know to cause health issues. Its also not removed by standard drinking water treatment methods.
Fracking, -- the impacts on groundwater supplies have yet to be fully revealed but I'd bet we're going to regret doing that one day.

Sorry for the rant but it kills me to see us crapping in our own den, so to speak. Technology is great but I'd rather not be dependent upon it for clean drinking water, air, and edible garden veggies.

To get this reply back inline with your original questions: we've talked about treating drinking water here but you may want to consider also the exposure to your skin and respiratory system that occurs while bathing, including showers. Chemicals in you water may volatilize or aerosolize in the shower and enter your lungs or simply be absorbed through your skin.
 
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Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
351
Long Island, ny
So I’m going to go back to smoking cigarettes. And nothing but beer and vodka to drink!
 
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stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
More like "Pollution, sheesh:("
We're now dealing with pollution in our environment that is much insidious than the smog, and burning rivers of the 60s. That's what makes it so damn scary.
PFOS contamination resulted from use of firefighting foams and such.
We put MTBE in gasoline to make it burn cleaner but polluted the groundwater by way of leaking underground storage tanks.
The drugs we're putting into our sewer systems by way of our bodies aren't removed in standard sewage treatment plants that dump to our rivers, and more importantly, the drinking water treatment plants that take water from those same rivers. I'm referring to contaminants like endocrine disrupters that cause problems at the genetic level.
And sodium from winter deicing salts is starting to show up in surface and ground water supplies in amounts that humans can taste and are know to cause health issues. Its also not removed by standard drinking water treatment methods.
Fracking, -- the impacts on groundwater supplies have yet to be fully revealed but I'd bet we're going to regret doing that one day.

Sorry for the rant but it kills me to see us crapping in our own den, so to speak. Technology is great but I'd rather not be dependent upon it for clean drinking water, air, and edible garden veggies.

To get this reply back inline with your original questions: we've talked about treating drinking water here but you may want to consider also the exposure to your skin and respiratory system that occurs while bathing, including showers. Chemicals in you water may volatilize or aerosolize in the shower and enter your lungs or simply be absorbed through your skin.
Oiy. As a member of a community that has gone through the entire change curve around this topic I would encourage everyone not to over react if/when they become impacted. There was a very interesting study released not long after the "Love Canal" incident many decades ago that showed in some cases the stress created by the media and the "wondering" was in many cases more damaging to the potentially impacted residents than the actual chemicals in their water and around their homes.

We freaked out about showering initially too. If you're not dying within a month of directly drinking the water, you'll likely never die via inhalation in the shower or a good soak in your hot tub....this is where we've ended up :)

Get an under sink filter setup so you can sleep better at night...and definitely drink more beer, less water.
 
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Socratic Monologue

Burning Hunk
Dec 2, 2009
194
WI
FWIW I would take wiki articles with a grain of salt. Many of these compounds are not yet regulated and not particularly well known. If you search the NSF database you'll find recommended filter media for Dioxins. Dioxins are a family, you won't find "dioxin" listed on a chemical list for filter effectiveness, Tetrachlorodibenzo-p is the most common bad guy out there from the Dioxin family.

Almost all RO filters you'll buy, including the one linked above, will have one or more stages of GAC included in the filter. The most important aspect of GAC is "dwell time" when it comes to many of these chemicals. It's why I have 1,000lbs of GAC in my basement. It's also why RO filters, in this application, are intentionally slow to recover.

And I have no idea what Dioxane is :)
I only cited the wiki page to point out that the OP is talking about dioxane, and much of the ensuing discussion switched to dioxin. If a person doubted any of the wiki entry, they could confirm it using the source citations, of which there are at least one for every substantive claim made. Maybe this comparison is more clear:
They are clearly quite different molecules, regardless of the similarity in names. If what the OP is dealing with is dioxane, nothing about dioxin is going to be relevant.

Dioxane is apparently pretty well understood, but yes, largely unregulated:
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,523
Northern NH
BTW if you have radon in your water supply, the granulated activated carbon removes it and then at some point become radioactive waste. Radon is entirely natural as well as arsenic which is problem in some areas. Its not just man made stuff.

The reality is the ability to measure these contaminants means we know they are in the water but for most contaminants there are permissible exposure limits (PEL) set by the EPA. The PEL for a contaminant is usually orders of magnitude higher than the ability to accurately measure a contaminant.

The environmental director at the mill I worked for had a letter from client looking a buying cigarette filter paper that had to be dioxin free. (They were basically selling lung cancer sticks but wanted to advertise Dioxin free.)
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
BTW if you have radon in your water supply, the granulated activated carbon removes it and then at some point become radioactive waste. Radon is entirely natural as well as arsenic which is problem in some areas. Its not just man made stuff.

The reality is the ability to measure these contaminants means we know they are in the water but for most contaminants there are permissible exposure limits (PEL) set by the EPA. The PEL for a contaminant is usually orders of magnitude higher than the ability to accurately measure a contaminant.

The environmental director at the mill I worked for had a letter from client looking a buying cigarette filter paper that had to be dioxin free. (They were basically selling lung cancer sticks but wanted to advertise Dioxin free.)
The irony in my situation is that the spent GAC from our tanks is incinerated upon replacement. Mildly hilarious....in a not so hilarious kind of way.
 

Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
351
Long Island, ny
I thought about what will happen to these 5 filters that are full of crap I was trying to avoid. It will go into the landfill or incinerated a few towns over from me. Then back into the groundwater and air!!
 

TradEddie

Minister of Fire
Jan 24, 2012
889
SE PA
I strongly suggest you research the source of your information: "higher than national levels" is a worthless statement. It could mean that your levels are just slightly above average, which could be still far below any possible danger levels, (or not). I suspect you are on the receiving end of a sales pitch from a water treatment supplier.
If it is a municipal water supply, you can request their recent test reports, or reports may even be on their website. Flint Michigan aside, it is not legal for a municipal water authority to supply water that does not meet EPA standards.
If it's your own well, get it tested by an independent laboratory, not one that sells water treatments.

TE
 

stee6043

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2008
2,648
West Michigan
I strongly suggest you research the source of your information: "higher than national levels" is a worthless statement. It could mean that your levels are just slightly above average, which could be still far below any possible danger levels, (or not). I suspect you are on the receiving end of a sales pitch from a water treatment supplier.
If it is a municipal water supply, you can request their recent test reports, or reports may even be on their website. Flint Michigan aside, it is not legal for a municipal water authority to supply water that does not meet EPA standards.
If it's your own well, get it tested by an independent laboratory, not one that sells water treatments.

TE
In the case of PFOA/PFOS there are only a handful of states that have started to regulate "acceptable" levels. There is no EPA/Federal regulation yet.

The loosely referenced safe level for PFOA/PFAS is 70ppt though not enforceable by the EPA. From a Safe Water Drinking Act standpoint any municipal water provider in a state that hasn't yet adopted an MCL (max contamination level) can sell water containing any level of PFOA/PFAS, whether or not it exceeds the 70ppt "recommended" level.

New York State (where the OP is) just recommended a maximum contaminant level in July 2019 - 20ppt. It does not appear as law yet. Hence, the OP may be in a water district whose water exceeds 20ppt PFOA/PFOS and since it's not yet law the water authority isn't yet addressing it. Perhaps those levels are now public and since their buddies in Vermont passed laws a few years back setting the level at 10/14ppt....there is concern.

The moral of the story.....I think....is that you shouldn't rely on the EPA to tell you whether or not your water is safe in the case of emerging contaminants like PFOA/PFAS.

And you'll be in for a treat when you try to get your well water tested for PFOA/PFAS. Tests run $800-$1200 a pop and you can count the number of labs certified to test for it on one hand.

And Flint....shoot....that isn't even remotely analogous to this topic. Corrosive water causing lead to leach from homeowner owned pipes is worlds away from the concept of harmful chemicals being included in the raw water directly from the plant.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,682
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
So back to the OP, his actual water has apparently not been tested and apparently won’t be tested as part of this wild goose chase for treatment for some unregulated contaminant. It is becoming apparent that this is a scam.

That said, gac filters are common and easily installed. It can’t hurt and will strip out other stuff like chlorine and even some sulfurs.
 

Rob711

Feeling the Heat
Oct 19, 2017
351
Long Island, ny
I’ve always meant to add some type of filter, I have a newly renovated home, it’s time. Long Island had a lot of companies that made degreasing chemicals. Apparently they used to train firefighters at our airports with foam too. I acknowledge I’m slightly paranoid but I don’t fully trust the people selling me my water. No one has approached me selling filters. I simply asked because I think I get good info from this site.