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Why Are Berkey Water Filters Banned in California?

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

why are berkey water filters banned in california

Why are Berkey water filters banned in California? Non-compliance with state laws is why Berkey water filters are banned from California. The Golden State has very strict regulations about using non-lead-free products, including their introduction into the local market.

Moreover, California requires all “lead-free” products, including water filters, to have an NSF or third-party ANSI-accredited laboratory certifying the products contain less than 0.25% of lead.

Berkey’s refusal to subject its filters to an ANSI-accredited independent test makes it illegal to sell and use the product in California.

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Why California Banned Berkey Water Filters

berkey filters illegal in california

Only one reason exists to answer the question, why is Berkey banned in California?

California is popular for its radical laws, especially on health and safety. Berkey’s refusal to comply with California state laws and get an ANSI/NSF certificate prevents it from marketing and leveraging the state’s growing water filtration market.

The following California laws provide the basis for Berkey’s banning in the state.

California Health and Safety Code (HSC) 116875: Paragraph G, Subdivision 1 states that all water-related products should be certified by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited independent testing organization, preferably the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International.

Moreover, Sub-subdivision A requires the testing of materials should use Department of Toxic Substances Control protocols.

Senate Bill 1395: Passed May 12, 2008, this California legislation supports California’s HSC 116875 related to “lead plumbing monitoring and compliance testing.”

Assembly Bill 1953: The California State Assembly passed this law in August 2006, amending the HSC 116875, prohibiting the use and introduction into the market of non-lead-free plumbings. It also described that lead-free fixtures should have a weighted lead content of wetted surfaces of less than 0.25%.

Some folks might think California is “overacting” over lead concerns. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that lead exposure can produce adverse effects among children, including the following.

  • Nervous system damage
  • Sensory problems, especially speech and hearing
  • Behavioral and learning difficulties
  • Sluggish growth and development

The World Health Organization also says lead exposure accounts for “21.7 million disability-adjusted life years,” or the years lost to death and disability. The organization also underscored the chemical’s impact on intellectual disabilities, chronic kidney diseases, and cardiovascular disease.

Lead is very common. There is even a Consumer Reports article saying lead and cadmium might be present in dark chocolates, underscoring that this chemical could be in any product. Therefore, ensuring water filters do not contain lead should help minimize exposure to the harmful chemical.

Basic Information about Berkey Water Filters

berkey water filters safe

New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. started making the Berkey water filtration systems in the late 1990s with the Big Berkey. Its countertop water filter units feature the Black Berkey Element, although homeowners can choose the Fluoride Reduction Filter.

The brand prides itself on its all-natural filtration methods, differentiating it from other water filter brands. It says its water testing processes are more rigorous than NSF and ANSI protocols, prompting the brand to forego certification from these organizations.

It is worth noting that the company uses a third-party New Jersey-based ISO 17025 laboratory to test its water filtration systems against NSF/ANSI protocols. Although the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) owns Envirotek Laboratories, Inc., the laboratory is not ANSI-accredited.

Many homeowners attest to Berkey’s performance in the real world. Some brands also try to imitate the system, but nobody can outclass the original. These observations further cement Berkey’s position in the gravity-fed water filter market segment.

Why Doesn’t the Berkey Water Filter Do the Test?

independent test

One main reason is that Berkey considers the NSF standards are “limited.” To clarify, the company says it must put a half-life on its Black Berkey Element to be NSF certified, despite its water purification ability being “twice” more than the NSF standard.

In addition, the brand considers the costs of testing and maintaining the ANSI certification to be too high. Given the amount of tax and paperwork needed to comply with just one state’s laws, Berkey decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

Another possible reason is the brand deems its water filtration technology as “intellectual property.” In other words, Berkey does not want to disclose its products’ compositions, which have so far allowed them to outperform other brands.

Berkey even went as far as refusing to demonstrate its products’ contaminant removal performance in public. This goes against the state of Iowa’s policy, which requires all brands to prove their products’ efficiency by performing a live demonstration. This refusal got Berkey banned in Iowa.

Until Berkey decides to become transparent in its water contaminant removal claims, we can all expect Berkey filters illegal in California.

What Berkey Water Filters Can You Purchase in California?

consumer reports

Although banned, there are some Berkey water filters California residents can buy. The brand created its “Berkey Systems for California” to serve loyal followers in the state. You can check the following Berkey water filters at your favorite California shop.

  • Travel Berkey Water Filter
  • Berkey Light Water Filter
  • GO Berkey Kit
  • Sport Berkey Water Bottle

These Berkey products are for one to three people and range in price from $46 to $386, depending on the package.

Ways to Buy Them

Folks who are wondering why Berkey can’t ship to California will be glad to learn that the brand can do so now. Four Berkey products are now available for California residents: Travel Berkey, Berkey Light, GO Berkey, and Sport Berkey.

You can buy these Berkey water filtration systems from authorized distributors and resellers. Alternatively, Berkey has its dedicated shop for California residents, allowing it to ship the product straight to your doorstep.

Leading online commerce platforms can also ship “legal” Berkey water filters to California buyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do Berkey filters contain lead?

No, Berkey filters do not contain lead. On the contrary, Black Berkey Elements can remove more than 99.9% of lead from the water. It would be pointless to reduce lead in water if the water filter contains the heavy metal.

However, Berkey’s refusal to have an NSF certification for its lead-free products prompts some people to believe the brand might contain lead.

2. Is a Berkey water filter safe?

Are Berkey water filters safe? Users have different experiences with these water filters.

For example, Reddit users commented that Berkey water allows their plants to thrive, while city water killed them. This real-life observation underscores Berkey’s safety.

However, some Berkey users complain of “Berkey water filter making me sick.” For instance, some folks claimed they experience muscle cramps or diarrhea. Similarly, some customers said they felt sluggish and bloated after drinking Berkey water.

These safety concerns underscore several Berkey water filter problems, including the reliability and validity of its water contaminant removal performance.


Why are Berkey water filters banned in California? To jog your memory: it’s because Berkey’s refusal to get an NSF or ANSI certification goes against the state’s law.

If the brand’s assertions of superior water contaminant removal test procedures than NSF/ANSI protocols are accurate, Berkey has nothing to lose by having an NSF certification. Its continued defiance of state laws prompts some skeptics to question the brand’s water quality performance claims.

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