Only One Brita Filter Removes Lead From Drinking Water

Written by Lydia Noyes


Lydia Noyes

Climate Journalist

Lydia Noyes is an organic farmer and climate journalist. She is a member of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.


Only the Brita Elite filter is certified for reducing lead (not the Standard Brita Filter).

Sadly, lead in drinking water has been in the news quite a bit over the last few years, beginning with the tragedy in Flint, Michigan.

Brita water filter pitchers are in every grocery store in America, but only one of the filters offered by Brita has been certified to remove lead from drinking water; the Brita Elite filter.

Brita’s Elite filter is more expensive than the standard filter but lasts longer. If you are concerned about lead in drinking water and want to use a Brita pitcher, it’s worth it to pay for the upgraded Brita Elite filter.

For a more thorough review ofBrita water filters, see my post Do Brita Water Filters Work?

Brita Standard Filter vs. Brita Elite

Brita Standard Filter

  • Work for two months (or 40 gallons)
  • Recyclable

brita elite filter

  • Last up to 6 months
  • Faster filtration
  • Certified to remove lead

Brita currently sells two types of replacement filters for its pitchers: Standard and Elite. The Standard Filters will work for up to two months (or 40 gallons) before needing replacement, and they are 100% recyclable through Brita’s TerraCycle program. 

Elite filters, in contrast, will last up to six months and offer an improved flow for faster filtration. These filters have a patented pleated design and can remove more kinds of contaminants than the Standard Filters, including 99% of lead and asbestos. And, while they are recyclable, the company notably doesn’t claim they are 100% recyclable like it does with the Standard filters. 

Note: It’s possible to purchase Brita-style filters from third-party sellers online. While they might vary slightly in their form and ability to be recycled, they all have an activated charcoal filter.  

The 2020 Brita Lead in Drinking Water Study

Brita claims its filtration system can remove up to 99% of many kinds of contaminants. Research seems to back this up, as a 2020 study found that carbon filters can bring lead contamination in tap water down to safe levels. 

Brita water filter Elite filter review
Brita’s Elite water filter is the only Brita filter that can remove lead from drinking water.

What are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified For?

Here’s a look at common contaminants and whether Britas can filter them. 

Improved Taste – Yes: Both Brita filters are certified for reducing the taste and odor of tap water.

Chlorine – Yes: Both filters will remove chlorine to the point that it won’t affect taste or odor. 

Heavy Metals – Some, Not All: Both filters will reduce some heavy metals in water, including copper, zinc, mercury, and cadmium. They aren’t certified for iron, chromium, and manganese. 

Lead – It Depends: Only the Brita Elite filter is certified for reducing lead (not the Standard Brita). 

Microplastics – It Depends: The Brita Elite Filter is certified for microplastic removal, while the Standard Filter is not. 

Pesticides – It Depends: Only the Brita Elite filter is certified to reduce certain pesticides and herbicides. 

Pharmaceuticals – It Depends: The Brita Elite Filter will reduce trace amounts of some pharmaceutical drugs, includingatenolol, ibuprofen, carbamazepine, meprobamate, naproxen, phenytoin, and trimethoprim. 

Disinfection Byproducts – Sort Of: While Brita filters aren’t certified to reduce disinfection contaminants like trihalomethanes (THMs) or halo acetic acids (HAAs), activated carbon filters are known to reduce them. 

Sulfur – Sort Of: Brita filters are not certified for removing sulfur, but the activated charcoal filter should reduce the smell. 

PFAS – No: While activated carbon filters can reduce PFAS levels, Brita doesn’t make any claims of doing so. 

Nitrates – No: Reverse osmosis or ion exchange will be more effective for removing nitrates.

Fluoride – No: Neither filter will affect the water’s fluoride level. You will need a filtration system that uses reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, or ion exchange.  

Bacteria, Microbes, Amoebas – No: Waterborne pathogens aren’t removed by Brita filters and should be treated with chlorine or UV. 

Hard Water – No: Neither filter claims to reduce water hardness or remove the calcium and magnesium that can cause it.

Arsenic – No: Neither filter claims to remove arsenic.  

Radioactive Metals – No: While activated carbon can treat radon in water, Brita doesn’t make any claims that its filters can do so. 

Salt – No: Neither filter is certified for salt removal. 

Mold or Fungi – No:Neither filter is certified to remove mold or fungi from drinking water. 

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