does reverse osmosis remove perchlorate from water
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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Perchlorate From Water?

Perchlorate is a chemical compound that has become a growing concern in recent years due to its presence in drinking water supplies.

In this article, we will explore what perchlorate is, where it is found, how it can contaminate the water supply, its impact on human health, and whether reverse osmosis is an effective method for removing perchlorate from water.

Key Takeaways

– Perchlorate is a contaminant that can be found in drinking water supplies.

– Reverse osmosis is a water treatment method that has been shown to effectively remove perchlorate from water.

– There are alternative ways to remove perchlorate from water, including ion exchange systems.

– It is important to choose a perchlorate water filter that meets your specific needs and considerations.

– Regular testing of your water supply is recommended to ensure it is free from contaminants, including perchlorate.

What Is Perchlorate?

Perchlorate is a chemical compound that is commonly used in the production of rocket fuel, fireworks, and other explosives. It is highly soluble in water, which means it can easily dissolve and contaminate water sources.

Perchlorate is a powerful oxidizer and can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones in the body. Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, growth, and development.

Where Are Perchlorate Found?

Perchlorate can be found in both surface water and groundwater sources. It can contaminate drinking water supplies through various means, including industrial waste, military activities, and the use of perchlorate-containing products.

In some cases, perchlorate contamination can occur naturally, particularly in regions where there are naturally occurring deposits of perchlorate-containing minerals.

How Does Perchlorate Get Into A Home’s Water Supply?

Perchlorate can enter a home’s water supply through several pathways. One common source of perchlorate contamination is the leaching of perchlorate-containing chemicals or products into the ground. From there, it can seep into groundwater sources and eventually make its way into private wells or public water systems.

Another potential source of perchlorate contamination is the use of fertilizers or fireworks that contain perchlorate. When these substances are used near bodies of water or on agricultural land, they can contaminate water sources.

Impact Of Perchlorate On Human Health

Exposure to perchlorate has been linked to several health effects, particularly on the thyroid gland. Studies have shown that perchlorate can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones, leading to thyroid dysfunction.

Prolonged exposure to perchlorate can result in decreased thyroid function, which can cause a range of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive impairments. In pregnant women, perchlorate exposure can also affect fetal brain development and lead to developmental issues in children.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Perchlorate From Water?

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Perchlorate From Drinking Water?

Yes, reverse osmosis can effectively remove perchlorate from drinking water. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a point-of-use reverse osmosis device can be used to effectively remove perchlorate from water.

Additionally, a study examining the rejection characteristics of perchlorate for commercially available reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF) membranes found that these membranes can effectively remove perchlorate from water. Low-pressure RO systems, which are typical for under-the-sink units, can provide about 95% rejection of perchlorates.

How Reverse Osmosis Systems Work

Reverse osmosis systems are typically installed under the sink and consist of several stages of filtration. The first stage usually involves a sediment filter that removes larger particles and sediment from the water.

The second stage is the reverse osmosis membrane itself, which is responsible for removing contaminants like perchlorate. The purified water then passes through a carbon filter, which helps improve the taste and odor of the water.

Finally, the treated water is stored in a small holding tank and is dispensed through a separate faucet installed on the sink.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

There are several advantages to using reverse osmosis for water treatment:

– It effectively removes perchlorate and other contaminants from drinking water.

– Reverse osmosis systems are relatively easy to install and maintain.

– The system is compact and can fit under the sink, saving valuable counter space.

However, there are also a few disadvantages to consider:

– Reverse osmosis systems can be expensive compared to other water treatment methods.

– The filtration process can be slow, leading to a limited water flow rate.

– The system produces wastewater as a byproduct, which may need to be disposed of properly.

What Else Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

In addition to perchlorate, reverse osmosis systems can effectively remove a wide range of contaminants from water. These include:

– Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic.

– Chlorine and chloramine, which are commonly used in water treatment but can affect the taste and smell of water.

– Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that might be present in the water.

– Pesticides and herbicides that can contaminate water sources.

Alternative Ways To Remove Perchlorate From Water

While reverse osmosis is an effective method for removing perchlorate from drinking water, there are alternative methods available:

– ion exchange systems: These systems exchange perchlorate ions with other ions to remove the contaminant from the water.

– activated carbon filters: These filters can remove certain contaminants, including perchlorate, by adsorbing them onto their surface.

– advanced oxidation processes: These processes use chemical reactions to break down and remove contaminants like perchlorate.

How To Know If Water Is Contaminated With Perchlorate

The only way to know for sure if your water is contaminated with perchlorate is to have it tested by a certified laboratory. Regular testing is recommended to ensure the water quality is safe and free from harmful contaminants.

How Much Perchlorate Is Safe In Well Water?

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that perchlorate does not occur with a frequency and at levels of public health concern in public water systems. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends a Maximum Contaminant Level of no more than 2 ppb (parts per billion) perchlorate in drinking water and, ideally, 1 ppb to protect children from the health harms. In contrast, Health Canada has suggested a guidance value of 6 ppb.

It is important to note that state standards for perchlorate may vary. For example, the California Department of Public Health has adopted a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for perchlorate[5]. You should check your local regulations and guidelines for specific information on safe perchlorate levels in well water.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Perchlorate Water Filter

When selecting a perchlorate water filter, there are several key considerations to keep in mind:

Installation & Maintenance

Consider the ease of installation and maintenance of the filtration system. Some systems may require professional installation, while others can be easily set up on your own.


Evaluate the initial cost of the system, as well as any ongoing maintenance and filter replacement costs. Consider your budget when choosing a perchlorate water filter.

Water Flow Rate

Determine the water flow rate of the system. If you have a large household or high water usage, you may need a system that can provide a higher flow rate.

Physical Space Available

Consider the physical space available under your sink or in the area where the filtration system will be installed. Ensure that the chosen system fits the available space.

Customer Reviews

Read customer reviews and feedback on different perchlorate water filters to get insights into their performance and effectiveness.


Perchlorate contamination in drinking water is a serious concern due to its potential health effects. Reverse osmosis has been proven to effectively remove perchlorate from water, providing clean and safe drinking water. However, there are alternative methods available for removing perchlorate, and it is important to consider your specific needs and budget when choosing a perchlorate water filter. Regular testing of your water supply is recommended to ensure it is free from contaminants.

FAQs – Does RO Remove Perchlorate From Water

Q: Does reverse osmosis remove perchlorate?

A: Yes, reverse osmosis is an effective method for removing perchlorate from drinking water. It works by using a semipermeable membrane to remove impurities, including perchlorate, from the water.

Q: What are the health effects of perchlorate?

A: Perchlorate has been found to interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones, which can lead to negative health effects. It may disrupt normal thyroid function and potentially affect metabolism, growth, and development.

Q: How does perchlorate end up in drinking water?

A: Perchlorate can enter water sources through various means, including industrial discharges, contamination from military operations, and the use of certain fertilizers and chemicals. It can also occur naturally in some areas.

Q: Is perchlorate removal necessary in water treatment?

A: Perchlorate removal is important in water treatment to ensure that drinking water supplies are safe and free from this contaminant. Proper treatment methods can effectively reduce perchlorate levels to meet regulatory standards.

Q: Can perchlorate be removed from water sources?

A: Yes, there are treatment processes available that can remove perchlorate from water sources. Techniques such as activated carbon filtration, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis can be used to reduce perchlorate concentrations.

Q: Are there standards for perchlorate in drinking water?

A: Yes, there are regulatory standards in place for perchlorate in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 6 micrograms per liter (µg/L) for perchlorate in public drinking water systems.

Q: Can individuals be exposed to perchlorate through drinking water?

A: Yes, individuals can be exposed to perchlorate if it is present in their drinking water. It is important to regularly test and monitor water sources for perchlorate to ensure that exposure is minimized.

Q: Can perchlorate be removed completely from water?

A: Perchlorate can be effectively removed from water, but complete removal might be challenging in some cases. The efficacy of the treatment process and the initial concentration of perchlorate are important factors to consider.

Q: What is the impact of perchlorate on water contamination?

A: Perchlorate contamination in water can have serious consequences for human and environmental health. It is considered a potential threat due to its persistence, mobility, and ability to affect thyroid function.

Q: What are the treatment options for perchlorate removal?

A: There are several treatment options available for perchlorate removal, including ion exchange, biological degradation, and advanced oxidation processes. Each method has its advantages and limitations, and the choice depends on the specific situation and water quality.

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