My family has used a Brita pitcher for years to filter our water and make it safer to drink and I have always insisted our kids use it, rather than drink directly from the tap. Recently, though, I began to wonder if the pitcher itself might contain a dangerous chemical — bisphenol A (BPA) — that could leach into the water.
If you’re concerned enough about health to investigate water pitchers, you might want to pay attention to fracking — the gas extraction method that threatens drinking water safety. Filters won’t help if the radioactive material and other chemicals associated with fracking get into your water.
So, a couple of months ago, I used the contact form on Brita’s website to ask. I didn’t mention BPA directly. I simply asked what kind of plastic the different pitcher parts were made of.
Since Pur makes a similar pitcher, I decided to submit the same question to them. As Pur claims that its pitcher reduces pharmaceuticals from the water — which would be wonderful if true — I also asked what drugs the pitcher filters and how.
Following are the answers I received from each, and below that, an assessment.
Dear Ms. Eisenberg,
Thank you for contacting us.
The pitcher lids and filter housings are made of Polypropylene plastic. The reservoirs and pitchers are made either from NAS (a Styrene based plastic) or SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile). The soft-touch handles are made from an elastomer called Santoprene (not to be confused with Latex or Neoprene). Our products do not contain any bisphenol A and are all tested by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) for safety and wetted contact. Unfortunately the pitcher materials are not recyclable, and therefore do not have a plastic number. Please contact us at any time if you have additional questions.
Again, thank you for contacting us.
Consumer Response Representative
Dear Ms. Eisenberg,
Thank you for contacting Pur.
There is no BPA present in any PUR pitchers/dispensers or lids. Pur pitcher/dispenser bodies are manufactured from an acrylic-based polymer classified as recycling code #7. Pur pitcher/dispenser lids are manufactured from polystyrene, code #6. Pur pitcher/dispenser filters are made from polypropylene, code #5, and also contain no BPA.
All Pur pitchers/dispensers undergo independent safety testing by NSF International, a not-for-profit certification agency for water treatment and other products. Our products meet all industry standards and specifications for material safety and chemical extraction. I’ll share your comments with the team.
Pur water filtration system is the first leading brand to claim reduction of pharmaceuticals identified in U.S. tap water. The new research shows that Pur Water Filtration Systems remove more than 99 percent of pharmaceutical compounds from America’s tap water using the Pur faucet filters and more than 96 percent with Pur pitchers.
Pur effectively reduces five different categories of medication including:
Hormones: prednisone, prednisolone, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol.
Antibiotics: ciprofloxacin, administered in tablet form to prevent certain infections caused by bacteria,as well as sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, which are administered intravenously to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections including pneumonia, and urinary tract and intestinal infections.
Antidepressants: fluoxetine, prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, including depression and other mental/mood disorders.
Anti-anxiety medication: meprobamate, a treatment used to relieve nervousness or tension that exceeds stress of everyday life.
Painkillers: ibuprofen and naproxen.
Thanks for writing.
Brita: Neither polypropylene nor the styrene compounds used in Brita pitchers contain BPA, so I feel comfortable that the company’s BPA-free claim is true. Styrene is a worrisome chemical in its own right, but I feel reassured in this regard by the statement that the pitchers are tested by the NSF for safety and by NRDC’s and EWG’s comments on the subject. I am continuing to use our Brita pitcher at home.
Pur: As far as I know, acrylic does not contain BPA, so the Pur pitcher would also seem to be BPA-free. That said, I did not find the statement about Pur products meeting “industry standards and specifications for material safety and chemical extraction” at all reassuring. Industry standards are rarely stringent enough. (Sadly, even the standards of the FDA, which continues to allow BPA in food and beverage containers, are not high enough to protect people’s health.)
The question of how Pur’s pitcher reduces pharmaceuticals was not answered. There was merely a vague assertion that “the new research shows” pharmaceuticals are reduced. If Pur had convincing, independent research to back up its claim, I suspect it would have been more speciific.