Under Sink

Water Filter


Water Quality Researcher

Bacteria are everywhere. That includes our surface water and our groundwater, which ultimately means our drinking water. While not all bacteria are directly harmful, some certainly are. And because they’re undetectable to the human eye, we can easily ingest harmful bacteria through our water without knowing it. Drinking water laced with disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or cysts (giardia & cryptosporidium) can have negative side effects and can make you sick. So how do you know when you’re being exposed to harmful bacteria in your water supply and what can you do about it? Read on to find out.

How Does Bacteria Get In My Water?

Let’s start at the beginning. There are a few main culprits that account for bacteria getting into our drinking water. Ranches, farms, and feedlots make up a vast majority of land in the United States and in Canada. Runoff from these places often carries fecal and organic matter that ends up in our drinking supplies. Similarly, rural homeowners rely on septic systems to treat their house household wastes, which are sometimes known to leak out of their containment systems. Wildlife also live in close proximity to people and don’t have designated bathrooms like humans do. Furthermore, city sewer systems are aging and can leak into fresh water supplies. Fecal and organic matter from any of these sources can get into lakes, streams, rivers, and sometimes groundwater. There isn’t a great system in place to ensure that various sources of contamination aren’t making their way into our drinking water or water supplies.

Health Effects

According to the CDC's website, about 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water. Drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and cysts can produce the following symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, nausea, headaches, fever, fatigue, and in more extreme cases, death. Infants, small children, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk, and all of these pathogens act quickly. For example, lead in your water is dangerous and will cause life threatening harm over the course of 40 years. In contrast, bacteria acts quickly and can become life threatening within the span of a day.

So What Can You Do?

Filtering water is so important, especially when it comes to combating pathogens. Most water filters are designed to reduce contaminants like fluoride and chlorine, but they don’t have the capability of removing bacteria, viruses, and cysts. If you’re concerned about these pathogens in your water, it’s important to make sure your filter is able to remove them.

Under Sink Water Filter Bacteria

A lot of people now use under sink water filter systems. But do they remove bacteria? Furthermore, very few have been tested to remove bacteria or cysts. Why is that? Like the water pitcher market, most under sink water filters are designed to just improve the taste of your water and reduce the amount of chlorine. Most of these types of under sink water filters use Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) water filters. GAC filters are easy and inexpensive to make. 

The downside of GAC filters is that they do not remove many contaminants and quickly become less effective. At Epic Water Filters, we use solid carbon block filters made in the United States. (See GAC Filters vs Carbon Block Filters). Solid Carbon Block filters are more difficult to make but have a much higher contaminant and pathogen removal rate. 

 The Epic Smart Shield, our under sink water filter system has been certified against 3 NSF/ANSI drinking water standards including NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401, and bonus, it removes bacteria! We specifically tested the Smart Shield in an independent NSF/ANSI certified lab based in the United States for the removal of bacteria and microbial cysts (giardia & cryptosporidium). 

The Smart Shield removed >99.99% of bacteria and >99.99% of cysts (See bacteria testing here, see cysts testing here). So if you are interested in an under sink unit that removes bacteria, then dig into the product testing and look for specific testing around bacteria and cysts. The Epic Smart Shield is a DIY system that takes about 20 minutes to install and no drilling or plumbing experience is required. Cysts are usually easier to remove from water than bacteria as they are larger in size. Cysts are generally 7 to 10 microns while bacteria is generally 0.3 to 5 microns. 

For a reference point, the human eye can generally see something that is 50 to 60 microns in size (human hair is 70 microns). Our drinking water is not free of contaminants and pathogens, but the good news is that filtration media has become more advanced. Good filters can help purify your water and prevent exposure to harmful contaminants and pathogens. Plus, it tastes better. Do your research and make sure you’re getting a filter that’s working for you, and not the other way around.