Water filtration systems play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and quality of our drinking water. Among the popular brands in the United States is Berkey, known for its countertop filters. However, if you reside in California, you may have encountered a major obstacle – the ban on Berkey water filters according to state regulations. This comprehensive guide will explore the reasons behind the ban, study the laws, and discuss alternatives available to Californians seeking high-quality water filtration systems.
Why are Berkey Water Filters Banned in California?
The ban stems from a law known as AB 1953/Senate Bill (SB)1334 & 1395, HSC Section 116875, commonly referred to as the "no-lead law." Enacted in 2009, this law prohibits the sale of water purification systems and filtration products that convey or dispense water for human consumption without third-party certification. The certification verifies that the products are "lead-free" and have been tested by an ANSI/NSF-approved independent company.
Berkey water filters have not been certified to be lead-free by an ANSI/NSF-approved independent company.
The scope of the law extends to all water filtration systems, including their replacement parts, regardless of whether they contain metal alloys or claim to remove lead. Even though Berkey products are known for their lead-removal capabilities, they still require certification by a third-party ANSI/NSF-approved organization to be sold legally in California.
Why Won't Berkey Get Certification?
One might wonder why Berkey has not pursued third-party certification to make their products available in California. While there is speculation that Berkey might be reluctant to disclose proprietary information about their systems, including manufacturing processes and suppliers, no concrete evidence supports this claim. Berkey distributors have been tight-lipped about the issue, leaving us unanswered questions.
Also read: Berkey Water Filters Sues the EPA
California-Friendly Berkey Systems
Despite the ban, there are still Berkey products legally available in California. The state has made exceptions for the Berkey Light and Travel Berkey systems. These systems fall outside the scope of the regulations, allowing them to be sold without requiring lead-free certification. It is worth noting that California specifically does not prohibit the sale of "outdoor drinking water purification systems," which is why the Berkey Light and Travel Berkey filters are legally available to customers in the state.
Let's take a closer look at these California-friendly systems:
The Berkey Light is a portable, lightweight outdoor drinking water filtration option. Made from BPA-free plastic, this system comes with two filter elements and is budget-friendly compared to other Berkey water filter systems. It is available in various sizes and effectively reduces contaminants such as pathogenic bacteria, providing safe water from wells and city sources.
The Travel Berkey is a more robust, stainless-steel outdoor water filter system. With a holding capacity of 5.7 litres, this system can filter water from wells and city sources, removing chlorine, lead, and pathogenic bacteria. Although it comes slightly higher cost, the Travel Berkey offers reliable filtration for those seeking a durable and versatile option.
Berkey Water Filter Alternatives for California Residents
While the Berkey Light and Travel Berkey systems provide options for Californians, some individuals may still prefer indoor water filter systems. In such cases, obtaining a Berkey system directly from within California becomes challenging due to the state's regulations. However, there are alternative solutions to consider:
Reverse Osmosis Systems
Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are a popular choice for water filtration. They use a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities, including heavy metals, chemicals, and microorganisms. RO systems can be installed under the sink or as a whole-house system, providing clean and safe drinking water throughout the home. Choosing an RO system certified by ANSI/NSF is important to ensure its effectiveness.
Carbon Block Filters
Carbon block filters are another option for water filtration. These filters use activated carbon to adsorb impurities, including chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some heavy metals. Carbon block filters are available in various sizes and can be installed on faucets or countertop systems. Look for filters independently tested and certified by ANSI/NSF for optimal performance.
UV Disinfection Systems
UV disinfection systems utilize ultraviolet light to destroy bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in water. These systems eliminate harmful pathogens and are often used with other filtration methods. UV disinfection can be integrated into whole-house systems or installed at the point of use, ensuring safe and clean water throughout the home.
Ceramic filters are known for removing bacteria, cysts, and sediments from water. These filters consist of porous ceramic material that traps contaminants while allowing clean water to pass through. Ceramic filters can be used as standalone systems or combined with activated carbon filters for enhanced purification. Look for ceramic filters that have been tested and certified by reputable organizations.
Obtaining Berkey Systems in California
If you are specifically interested in an indoor Berkey system, there is a workaround to acquire one in California. You can ask a friend or family member who resides outside of California to purchase the system for you and have it shipped to their address. Subsequently, they can ship the system to you through the mail or arrange for a personal handover. Berkey considers this method permissible under the current regulations.
For replacement parts, a similar approach can be taken. You need to order the parts through an out-of-state friend or family member and have them shipped to you in California. Fortunately, all Berkey systems use the same purification elements, regardless of whether they are classified as indoor or outdoor systems, making replacement filters easily accessible.
The Future of Berkey in California
As it stands, Berkey water filters continue to face restrictions in California. Unless new regulations are implemented, or the current laws are amended, manufacturers like Berkey will continue to require third-party testing and certification for all systems intended for sale in the state. It remains to be seen whether Berkey will pursue certification or explore alternative solutions to make their indoor systems available to Californians in the future.
Also Read: Buyer Beware: Counterfeit Berkey Filters
The ban on Berkey water filters in California has been in place for over a decade, limiting state residents' access to these popular filtration systems. However, California-friendly options such as the Berkey Light and Travel Berkey provide viable alternatives. Additionally, various alternative water filtration systems exist, including reverse osmosis, carbon block filters, UV disinfection, and ceramic filters. With these options, Californians can still obtain high-quality water filtration systems that meet their clean and safe drinking water needs.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified water treatment specialist or review local regulations before deciding on water filtration systems.
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