POU water filters effectively reduce lead in drinking water: a demonstration field study in flint, Michigan

J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2019;54(5):484-493. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2019.1611141.


A field study was conducted to test the effectiveness of faucet-mounted point of use (POU) water filters for removing high concentrations of lead in drinking water from premise plumbing sources and lead service lines (LSL). These filters were concurrently certified for total lead removal under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (NSF/ANSI-53) and for fine particulate (Class I) reduction under NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (NSF/ANSI-42). In 2016, filtered and unfiltered drinking water samples were collected at over 345 locations in Flint, Michigan. Over 97% of filtered water samples contained lead below 0.5 µg/L. The maximum lead concentration in filtered water was 2.9 µg/L, well below the bottled water standard. The effectiveness of the POU activated carbon block filters in reducing lead concentrations, even above the 150 µg/L NSF/ANSI-53 challenge standard, is likely related to trapping particles due to the small effective pore size of the filters, in addition to ion-exchange or sorption removal of soluble lead. Properly installed and maintained POU filters, certified under both NSF/ANSI-53 (for total lead) and NSF/ANSI-42 (for fine particulate), can protect all populations, including pregnant women and children, by reducing lead in drinking water to levels that would not result in a significant increase in overall lead exposure.

Keywords: Lead; drinking water; point of use filtration.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Drinking Water / chemistry*
  • Drinking Water / standards
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Filtration / instrumentation*
  • Filtration / methods
  • Humans
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Michigan
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Sanitary Engineering
  • Soot / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Purification / instrumentation*
  • Water Purification / methods
  • Water Supply


  • Drinking Water
  • Minerals
  • Soot
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Lead