Do you have young children at home? Installing home water filters may be one of the most important investments in your child's health you will ever make. Why? Because a recent study from the UK shows that an unexpectedly high number of children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. And one of the most common ways of ingesting lead is through drinking water.

Since 1991, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has set a safe level of ten microgrammes per declitre of blood. However, a new study from the University of Bristol Centre for Child and Adolescent Health has discovered that even 5 to 10 microgrammes of lead per declitre of blood can severely impact the intelligence of children. They took blood samples from a sampling of 582 2-1/2 year old children, then tested their reading and writing skills when the children were 7 to 8 years old. They found that children with more than 5 microgrammes of lead per declitre of blood scored 50% less than normal children for reading and writing skills. Their SAT test scores were 1/3 of a grade lower.

What is really shocking is that more than a quarter (27%) of the children they tested had these elevated levels of lead in their blood. This is despite significant efforts from the UK government to remove the presence of lead from their environment. They have gotten rid of lead from their paints, their water pipes and their gasoline. Other governments have done much the same thing. So this situation of children having dangerous levels of lead in their blood is unlikely to be isolated to the UK alone. Other industrialized nations like the US are probably similarly affected. This means families with young children really need to be vigilant and pro-active about removing any possible sources of lead in their environment. For the safety of their kids, they cannot afford to wait for government action.

One common source of lead comes from the water supply. While there are very few public water pipes still made for lead or using lead solder, this may not be the case for older houses and apartments. Families living in older homes like these should consider installing a home water filter to protect the drinking water of their children. It is a good idea to go even further and install additional water filters for the bathroom taps and the shower. Note that you need to install what is called point of use home water filtration and not whole house water filtration. A whole house filter purifies the water before it reaches your house, but if the source of lead is your home plumbing, this is useless. Point of use just means installing it in your taps so that it can purify the water that has gone through your home plumbing system.

However, just installing a home water filter with the normal GAC or powdered carbon block filters is not good enough. These filtration systems do not remove lead contaminating your water. You need to make sure that your home water filter also comes with an ion exchange system which is rated to get rid of lead in the water. Note that different ion exchange systems target the removal of different heavy metals or different combination of metals, so you need to actually read the label to make sure one of the metals removed is lead.

Another more expensive option is to install a reverse osmosis home water filter. These systems remove practically everything, so your water will be very safe. However, they are very expensive, and the water pressure in older homes may be too low to operate them effectively.

A slightly cheaper alternative is to use a water pitcher which has filters to purify your water. The two top brands in the market today are PUR and Brita. They have both been around a long time, and you can buy different water filter cartridges to install in their water pitchers and dispensers. However, you need to make sure to buy only those filters which will also remove lead. One more alternative is to use only bottled water. Remember to also use this water for your cooking. The downside of these two solutions is that the water you (and your children) use for brushing your teeth, gargling your mouth and for bathing are not treated.

One combination of home water filtration that many middle class families find useful is to install a mid or high-end water filter for their kitchen tap, and low-end water filters for their shower and toilet tap. The filtered water from the kitchen tap should be used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning your utensils. Young children should also use this filtered water for brushing their teeth and gargling their mouths. Adults can use the toilet tap for this.

For greatest safety, you should buy these home water filters from a regular brick and mortar store where you can walk in and inspect the specification printed on the box containing the filter. Unfortunately, the specifications written on the websites of online retailers like Amazon for these water filters tends to contain some inaccuracies or lack essential details. Given that your child's health is at stake, you should not cut corners just to save a few dollars.