Brita filters are made from activated carbon and can remove a handful of common drinking water contaminants. But does Brita filter E. coli? The short answer is no.
Here, we’ve discussed a few things you should know about E. coli and Brita water filters, including the possible dangers of E. coli in water, and why Brita filters aren’t capable of removing this type of bacteria.
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🚱 How Does E. Coli Get Into Drinking Water?
E. Coli gets into drinking water as a result of fecal contamination.
In the US, we’re lucky to be at a much lower risk of E. coli contamination than people living in developing countries. However, E. coli still exists in our country, and has the potential to be deadly. In fact, E. coli infections are reportedly responsible for 265,000 illnesses and about 100 deaths in the US every year.
Here are some of the ways that E. coli bacteria can enter a drinking water supply:
- Animal waste: Grazing livestock or wildlife near a water source could contaminate the water with fecal matter containing E. coli.
- Agricultural runoff: In agricultural areas, runoff from fields containing manure or animal waste could carry E. coli into nearby water sources, especially after irrigation or heavy rainfall.
- Stormwater flooding: Heavy rain and flooding can carry E. coli from various surfaces into storm drains, which may eventually flow into water bodies. Storms may also cause well systems to be flooded with surface water containing harmful bacteria like E. coli.
- Failing septic systems: Failing or poorly maintained septic systems can cause E. coli and other bacteria to leak into the surrounding soil and groundwater, potentially contaminating wells and nearby water sources.
If you have a private well, you’re much more at risk of drinking E. coli contaminated water than you are if you’re on a public drinking water supply.
The reason for this is that private wells aren’t regulated. E. coli could contaminate your well and you’d be none the wiser, since most well owners only test their water annually.
Public water suppliers, on the other hand, test their water daily to make sure it’s safe to drink. If bacteria and viruses are detected, a Boil Water notice would be issued, and you’d be equipped with the knowledge to protect your family from the likes of E. coli.
On the other hand, if you get your water from a well, you might only discover E. coli contamination too late – when someone in your family gets sick.
🩺 What Are the Potential Health Risks of E. Coli?
E. coli is found in various different forms. While some types of E. coli are harmless, others can make us sick.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli is one of the most health-harmful types of E. coli. This E. coli bacteria is most commonly transmitted to humans due to the consumption of contaminated foods, but it can also be found in untreated or contaminated tap water supplies.
Some of the symptoms of infection from shiga toxin-producing E. coli are:
- Abdominal cramps
These symptoms are usually present for up to 10 days, and most healthy people should recover without medical attention. However, E. coli may lead to life-threatening disease, especially in young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.
🧪 How Can I Test for E Coli in My Water?
We recommend using a coliform bacteria water test to determine whether or not your water contains E. coli (E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria).
There are a couple of different testing options available:
- DIY test kits – These usually indicate the presence/absence of fecal coliform bacteria. They won’t usually tell you which, or how much, bacteria is present.
- Laboratory water tests – These give a more detailed insight into your water’s bacteria content, including which bacteria are present, and at what concentrations.
Laboratory water testing is more expensive than DIY testing, but it gives more accurate data. The right test for you depends on your situation. If you specifically need to know whether E. coli is present in your water, we recommend lab testing. But if you just want to determine whether or not your water contains bacteria, DIY testing is fine.
🤔 So, Does Brita Filter Out E. Coli?
No, none of Brita’s water filters can remove E. coli from tap water.
Brita sells two different types of filters for its water filter pitchers: the Standard filter and the Elite (formerly LongLast) filter.
The Elite filter can remove more contaminants than the Standard filter, including lead. However, when it comes down to it, both water filters offer a pretty basic contaminant removal performance, and none of them can remove bacteria or any other harmful pathogens.
The purpose of Brita filtered water pitchers is to improve the taste of your water by removing chlorine taste and odor, and a handful of other common contaminants. Brita filters are intended for treating chlorinated tap water, which has already had its biological contaminants removed.
In fact, Brita filters might increase your risk of bacteria exposure in your drinking water, especially if you don’t replace the filters frequently. This study discusses the potential for bacteria growth in water filter media.
⛔️ Why Do Brita Filters Not Filter E. Coli?
The simple reason why Brita filters don’t remove E. coli is that their design is too basic.
Brita’s filters are made from granular activated carbon media and an ion exchange resin. These filter media can remove contaminants like chlorine and some heavy metals, but they can’t remove or kill bacteria like E. coli.
We think Brita filters have many shortcomings when it comes to contaminant removal, but their failure to remove E. coli and other bacteria isn’t one of them.
Most water filter pitchers are incapable of removing waterborne contaminants because you need a special water filter media that’s either small enough to trap tiny pathogens (like a microfilter or nanofilter) or a water treatment method that can kill or inactivate microorganisms, preventing them from causing any harm.
So, in the case of Brita water filter pitchers and many similar products, the E. coli can simply slip through the filter pores with the water molecules, meaning that it’s still present in the filtered water.
📊 Brita Filters Contaminant Removal Chart
|Contaminant||Elite (Longlast +)||Standard||Stream||Bottle||Faucet|
|1, 2, 4 - Tricholorobenzene||✔️||✔️
|Select Emerging Contaminants||✔️||✔️|
|Select Pesticides & Herbicides||✔️||✔️
💡 Other Filters That Can Remove E. Coli
As we mentioned earlier, most water filter pitchers aren’t designed to remove E. coli or other bacteria from water. They’re made for filtering tap water, with the primary goal of improving its taste and removing trace contaminants and pollutants that are often found in public drinking water supplies.
However, there are a couple of water filter pitchers that can remove E. coli, including the Epic Nano Filter Pitcher, which can remove up to 99.99% of E. coli.
This sub-micron water filter uses nanofiltration to remove 99.999% of all tap water contaminants. The filter’s tiny pores are small enough to block the likes of E. coli and other bacteria, making water microbiologically safe.
Not fussed about using a water filter pitcher to remove or kill E. coli? Consider one of these alternative water treatment systems:
- UV water purifiers – Use UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, including E. coli.
- Water distillers – Remove up to 100% of total coliform and Escherichia coli through evaporation and condensation.
Can you kill E. coli by boiling your water?
Yes, you can kill E. coli by boiling your water. Just make sure to bring your water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute to effectively kill all E. coli, then store the water in a safe location that’s at no risk of recontamination.
Do Brita filters remove bacteria?
No. Just as they don’t remove E. coli (a type of bacteria), Brita filters can’t remove bacteria in general. Check out our article on Brita filters for bacterial removal for more information.
Which water filters remove E. coli?
A few different water filters that remove E. coli are submicron filters (such as those found in portable or emergency water filters) and reverse osmosis systems. Other water treatment systems that can kill E. coli are UV water purifiers and water distillation units.