Do Refrigerator Filters Remove Arsenic?

Do Refrigerator Filters Remove Arsenic

Arsenic can be potentially damaging to your health. If consumed regularly, it can cause bladder and lung cancer. But will refrigerator filters help protect you from this dangerous chemical?

Many standard refrigerator filters won’t be able to remove arsenic. The arsenic particles are too large for the carbon filter to pick up. But filter technologies like reserve osmosis and activated carbon will be able to successfully extract pollutants like arsenic.

Refrigerator filters can remove plenty of contaminants, like heavy metals and chlorine. But there are a few areas where they can struggle, with most models unable to remove arsenic. Read on to learn more about why they struggle and what types of filters are effective against arsenic.

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

Related article: 7 Methods to Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water

Why Don’t Refrigerator Filters Remove Arsenic?

As we’ve mentioned, it’s rare for a refrigerator filter to be able to remove arsenic. The main reason for this lies in the way they remove contaminants. They tend to have a carbon filter.

While these are great at controlling the amount of chlorine in the water, they can struggle with other types of contaminants. This is because the arsenic particles are too large for the filter, allowing them to pass through.

What Filters Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water?

While standard refrigerator filters won’t be able to remove arsenic, some can get rid of these pollutants. These are:

1. Reverse osmosis filter

This starts by running the water through the carbon filter. Then, it goes through the reverse osmosis filter. This removes the bigger particles, like arsenic. Lastly, it goes through another carbon filter.

Learn more about reverse osmosis in my comprehensive article.

2. Activated carbon filter

This works by absorbing the pollutants in the water, rather than trying to filter them out. Because of this, you will need to replace your filter more frequently.

Read my article on carbon filter design to learn more.

Efficiency of Refrigerator Water Filters

There are a few types of filters you can use in your refrigerator. Here are some of the most common options and the pollutants that they can and can’t remove:

Filter Type Arsenic Removal Cannot Remove
Standard refrigerator filters Effective at removing little more than chlorine arsenic

aluminum, barium, cadmium, copper, fluoride, mercury, radium, selenium, uranium

Activated carbon filters Effective at removing chlorine, and some contaminants. Arsenic removal 90 – 98% high levels of arsenic

metals, radioactive compounds

Reverse osmosis filters Effective at removing chlorine, and some contaminants. Arsenic removal 92 – 99% most organic compounds, bacterial microorganisms, chlorine by-products, or dissolved gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and radon


Water Filters and Modern Refrigerators

Water filters in the fridge are one of the most convenient ways of filtering water. But they aren’t perfect. The manufacturer will have to determine the type of filter they use.

However, many of them don’t want to make the required investment to upgrade to the more effective reverse osmosis or activated charcoal filters. To put this into perspective, a typical household filter system for drinking water can cost around $500. But more specialized filters for its removal are extremely costly and typically around $2000.

Can Reverse Osmosis Remove Much Arsenic?

Reverse osmosis is presently the most common way to purify groundwater and remove chemicals from it. Because of this, reverse osmosis can remove up to 97 percent of arsenic. Normal refrigerator filters in general are nowhere near as good as effective. They only remove 20-40 percent of the pollutant.

Other Ways of Controlling Arsenic Levels

Fridge filters are a good way of controlling the amount of arsenic that you are consuming. We need to be aware of the risks of arsenic in water, and not just focus on the benefits of drinking filtered water. The U.S. government has set a limit on how much of it is safe in the environment, but exposure can still happen in other ways. This includes:

  • Eating food grown with groundwater
  • Taking medications that contain arsenic
  • Eating fish grown in contaminated seas or waterways

It should be noted that there are two types of arsenic; organic and inorganic.  Both types are excreted from the body in a short time. The arsenic which does not leave our bodies can be the cause of the occurrence of some cancers and is, therefore, of some concern.

Where Are the Biggest Problem Areas for Arsenic Ingestion?

Arsenic in drinking water is fairly common within the United States. According to the CDC, 80 percent of the water sources in the US contain some level of arsenic.

If you are concerned about the risks of arsenic in your water supply, you can get your water tested. According to the WHO, the safe level of arsenic in drinking water is 10 micrograms per liter. But it’s best to make sure that you are well below this level.

But other countries have a high proportion of inorganic arsenic in the groundwater. These include:

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • China
  • India
  • Mexico

Refrigerator Water Alternative Solution

There are many types of filters on the market that have differing claims as to their ability to remove arsenic from water.  A logical solution to the problem would be to install a whole-house filter system. This removes pollutants from the incoming water supply before they enter the refrigerator filter.

The downside is that this can be an expensive solution. On the lower end, this can cost around $1,100. On the upper end, it can cost over $3,200. Furthermore, you will need to pay for maintenance, like replacing filters.


The type of filter that you are using on your refrigerator has a big impact on the quality of the water you consume. Most standard filters won’t be able to remove arsenic from the water supply. If you live in an area with high arsenic, it’s often worth investing in a more sophisticated filter to extract pollutants.

Chief Guru

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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