Brita filters can remove a handful of contaminants most commonly found in public water. Can Brita remove bacteria? The quick answer is no.
In this guide, I’ve shared information on the dangers of bacteria in tap water, why you shouldn’t drink it, and why Brita filtered water systems don’t remove harmful pathogens like bacteria.
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🚱 How Does Bacteria Get Into Drinking Water?
Bacteria are everywhere in the environment, and not all bacteria are harmful to our health. Disease-causing bacteria might sound like something that isn’t a problem in developed countries, but this pathogen can get into public drinking water in several ways. A leak in a pipe, a loss of water pressure, or contamination of treated water can all result in bacteria entering a water supply.
States must remove bacteria from municipal water supplies during treatment, according to EPA regulations. Although bacteria in drinking water isn’t common, it can happen.
Your local authority will issue a boil water advisory if bacteria is discovered during routine testing, or if an incident has occurred – such as a natural disaster or a pipe leak – that has increased the potential for bacterial contamination. In this event, you’ll be advised to boil your water until the bacteria is removed.
Bacteria are found naturally in untreated surface water. If this water contaminates a drinking water source (such as well contamination resulting from flooding), you may end up drinking bacteria and getting sick.
🩺 What Are the Potential Health Risks of Drinking Bacteria?
There are several different kinds of waterborne bacteria. Some bacteria, like total coliform bacteria, are harmless, but the presence of these bacteria indicates that other, harmful bacteria like fecal coliform are present.
The most well-known types of waterborne bacteria are E. Coli and Giardia Lamblia. Some of the most common health risks associated with drinking bacteria are:
- Death (in extreme cases)
The health effects of drinking bacteria are more likely to affect babies, young children, and the elderly, and symptoms are likely to be more severe for these age groups. Symptoms are likely to occur within 1 to 10 days after drinking contaminated water.
🧪 How Can I Test for Bacteria in My Water?
Bacteria doesn’t have a taste, color, or odor, so to know whether your water is contaminated with this pathogen, you’ll need to test for it.
You can test for bacteria with an at-home testing kit. However, to get the most accurate results, I recommend getting your water privately tested if there’s a possibility that it contains bacteria.
Many testing companies offer packages that test for several types of bacteria, like total coliform and fecal coliform. Testing for every single type of bacteria would be costly and time-consuming. That’s why most testing companies test for coliform bacteria, as the presence of this pathogen generally indicates that there are other harmful bacteria in the water.
If you’re looking for more information, I’ve written all about testing your water for bacteria in this guide.
🤔So, Does Brita Filter Out Bacteria?
Do Brita filters remove bacteria from water? No.
Brita’s most popular product range is its pitchers. Brita pitchers come with two water filter cartridges: the Standard filter and the LongLast+ (a more expensive filter that removes more impurities and lasts longer). Neither of these Brita filters removes bacteria.
Brita also sells dispensers, bottle filters, and faucet filters. The dispensers use Brita’s Standard and LongLast+ filters, while the bottle filters and activated carbon block filters. None of these filtration products can remove bacteria, either.
Some of the contaminants that can be removed by Brita filters are chemicals like chlorine (taste and odor), mercury, copper, lead, asbestos, cadmium, and benzene. But you can’t eliminate bacteria or viruses using a Brita product.
With Brita water filters, you get filtered water with a better taste. But no Brita filter system can provide anything more than basic filtration, removing a small selection of chemicals and metals commonly found in tap water.
In fact, it has been suggested that gravity filters like Brita’s encourage bacterial growth, and there are several reports to attest to this – so a Brita water filter might actually add bacteria to your water.
Why Do Brita Filters Not Filter Bacteria?
Brita’s filters combine granular activated carbon and an ion exchange resin. These filters are effective at removing contaminants that alter the taste, smell, and quality of water, resulting in cleaner, better-tasting water. But these filters can’t remove or kill bacteria.
There are two ways to achieve bacteria-free tap water: using a water filter with small enough pores to trap the pathogen, or using a purification method, like UV purification, to kill bacteria. The UV purification process is the most effective.
Bacteria are about 0.2 microns to 1 micron wide. Brita filters can reduce particles down to 0.5 microns, which means most bacteria will be able to simply slip through the filter pores. Although a Brita filter may remove some bacteria, there’s no guarantee that the filter will remove all of it, making water safe to drink.
Brita filters aren’t designed to filter anything other than tap water from a municipal supply. That’s why these filters can remove common tap water contaminants that affect taste, quality, and smell, like chlorine, but they can’t remove anything high-risk that you’re unlikely to find in tap water, like bacteria and viruses.
Private well owners shouldn’t use Brita products to filter their water.
📊 Brita Filters Contaminant Removal Chart
|1, 2, 4 - Tricholorobenzene||✔️||✔️|
|Select Emerging Contaminants||✔️|
|Select Pesticides & Herbicides||✔️||✔️|
💡 Other Filters That Can Remove Bacteria
Just because the Brita filter doesn’t eliminate bacteria from water, that doesn’t mean that no filter pitchers on the market are capable of bacteria removal. In fact, there are a number of advanced filtration solutions that offer incredibly thorough water filtration, using multiple filter stages to achieve near-pure water.
Two of the best pitcher water filters offering convenient, portable bacteria removal are the
Both of these water filters can remove hundreds of contaminants from water, including chemical particulates, metals, potentially harmful emerging impurities, fluoride, and bacteria.
💬 Brita Bacteria Removal FAQs
Why Do Brita’s Filters Remove Fewer Impurities?
You might be wondering, if some pitcher filtration systems can eliminate bacteria, why can’t the Brita system?
When they were first released to the public, Brita’s filters were the best on the market. Originally, chlorine removal was a unique selling point for a water filter.
However, since then, manufacturers have caught up with – and overtaken – Brita. Nowadays, it’s common for a filter system to remove chlorine and a host of other common impurities, including bacteria and viruses. Brita’s removal of a handful of tap water contaminants isn’t as impressive as it once was.
Does the Brita LongLast+ Brita Filter Remove Different Impurities to the Standard Filter?
Yes. Aside from lasting longer than the Brita standard filter, the LongLast+ filter can remove more contaminants. However, this Brita filter still can’t get rid of bacteria.
Do Brita Filters Purify Water?
No. A water purification system can provide incredibly thorough filtration, providing clean, 100% pure water. Brita doesn’t offer this level of filtering because small particles like bacteria are able to pass through the filter’s pores.
How does Brita Filter Water?
Brita’s standard filter combines two filtering processes: activated carbon and ion exchange. The activated carbon stage uses adsorption to grab onto contaminants like chlorine, while the ion exchange tackles impurities like copper and lead.
No part of the Brita filter is designed for bacterial removal. That’s why you can only use Brita filtration products with clean, treated tap water.