Filter lifespans (either in gallons or a specified time between recommended element replacements) are a big selling point for water filter systems. However, a system’s lifespan may not tell the whole story of how well a system performs, or if the system is right for your particular needs.
There is a water filtration phenomenon that can negatively affect stated filter lifespans: growthrough. It is a naturally occurring process that is often conveniently overlooked in advertising by water filter manufacturers.
Understanding the Growthrough Process
Bacteria thrive in damp areas, such as filtration elements inside a water purification system. When the right conditions for growth are present (certain environmental conditions, temperature, pressure, etc.), combined with sufficient nutrients, cells can multiply and penetrate the walls of a water purification system’s filters. This is known as “growthrough”. And since carbon-based filters remove chlorine (which is used to combat bacterial growth) from drinking water, it is that much more imperative that a system’s filter elements are self-sterilizing.
Growthrough and Filter Lifespan Claims
Growthrough can occur after just six months using typical tap water, or even sooner when filtering contaminated water—long before many filters would realistically reach 3,000 gallons (a commonly advertised filter lifespan). So when you are comparing systems, it’s important to find out if growthrough is accounted for in the manufacturer’s lifespan calculations.
Risks Posed by Growthrough
In the absence of a feedback mechanism to determine when growthough has occurred, this presents an especially concerning health risk. Once growthrough occurs, post-filtered water can actually be more bacteriologically contaminated than the original pre-filtered water. And since the process occurs at a microbial level, you’d never be able to identify it just by looking at it. However, a water quality test from a contaminated water filter could definitely be very eye-opening.
Self-Cleaning Black Berkey® Purification Elements Prevent Growthrough
Authentic Black Berkey® Purification Elements are independently tested to address over 200 contaminants in tap water or raw, freshwater sources such as lakes and ponds. Moreover, Black Berkey® Purification Elements are made with a proprietary formulation that includes a bactericidal media, which prevents growthrough from occurring. Thus, you can drink confidently.