In January 2022, CBP confiscated 29,000 counterfeit water purifying filters from China
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I’ll admit that I have a few bones to pick with Amazon these days. While it used to be my favorite go-to for saving money, it’s become a festering pool of poorly packaged knockoffs. It’s more than just annoying, because for some items it can pose risks to human health.
Water filters are part of a billion-dollar counterfeit business that sees over $3 million in counterfeit goods each day. In January 2022 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Baltimore seized 29,000 counterfeit water purifying filters from China.
The problem with using counterfeit water filters is that not only will contaminants remain in your water, but they can also leach chemicals into otherwise clean taps. About 90 percent of tap water in the US meets EPA's national drinking water standards. Water utilities, by law, have to provide consumers with a “Consumer Confidence Report” by July 1. The report tells you where your drinking water comes from, what contaminants have been found in it, and how contaminant levels compare to national standards. So, you may not even need a filter, and putting in a fake can have detrimental effects.
But if you are in an area where you have reason to be concerned about water quality, the main contaminants you want removed are lead, chlorine, PFOA, PFOS, arsenic, and biologic hazards. They pose a myriad of health risks from decreased fertility to cancer.
On a financial note, using counterfeit filters also puts your appliance at risk and invalidates your warranty.
The best option is to buy from an authorized retailer in person, which are listed on the manufacturer’s website.
If you want the convenience of buying online, go straight to the manufacturer’s website. If you insist on saving money and going off-brand for a generic, that’s understandable, and you’d be among millions of people to do so. However, a little due diligence is in order before hitting the Buy Now button.
Some of the things to check for before you make the online purchase are:
1. The site should have performance data sheets listed
2. The site should have specific product information, not generic info
3. Go to the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) website to search for certified brands. You can look up the manufacturer’s name in the NSF certification website to make sure they are legitimate.
There is also a video by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) that explains how to spot a fake. I can’t stress enough that counterfeit filters don’t remove lead, BPA, and other contaminants. After you've done your online research, it’s important to check that what you received in the mail is in fact what you ordered.
Don’t get rid of your old filter until you’ve gone through this checklist. Here are more tips to ensure you aren't buying counterfeit:
4. Make sure the new filter is the same weight as the original. Counterfeits weigh less than the original filter
5. The NSF Certification symbol is stamped on the filter
6. Make sure there is no grainy, low-quality photos on the packaging
For some refrigerators, like my GE bottom freezer, you can only buy the manufacturer’s filter. There is an RFID chip in them to ensure that the consumer is getting the real deal, but it’s not fool proof. (I’m aware of workarounds, but honestly that’s just not me. Anyone that knows me knows I’m by-the-book and straight as an arrow.)
For other less picky refrigerators, going generic may best serve the customer, just make sure you've done the right research.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.
A note regarding my water filter affiliates: everydrop® and Waterdrop
Buying from everydrop® is buying from the manufacturer.
This is because everydrop® is part of the Whirlpool family of brands that includes KitchenAid, Maytag, JennAir, and Amana. I can’t say for sure why they created a separate company brand their filters, but my guess it’s that it was easier than making water filters branded under each of the name-brand names.
This family of brands sponsors the educational campaign, Filter It Out to help consumers avoid online scams.
You can find their refrigerator filter performance data sheets on their website.