Is Your Water Pure?
“Thousands have lived without love, none without water.”— W.H. Auden
Water is the most precious resource on Earth, adding the blue in our blue and green planet. Covering three quarters of the planet, water shapes our ecosystems, sustains all living beings, and is essential to survival. This precious liquid is the very source of life. Life evolved from the primordial ocean as the first single celled organisms formed. Seawater contains the essential compounds that form the building blocks of life. The importance of water for a healthy life can hardly be overstated. Our relationship with this fluid is what determines our health and environment. It’s important to understand its power and to care for this precious resource. Let’s take a look at how water could be the most important health decision you make in your life. Understanding the nature of water’s complexity and solutions to upgrade your health will help you get closer to the Ultimate life.
What’s in your water?
Precious as it is water can also have many contaminants that if not removed can adversely impact your health. Water can be contaminated with various pollutants such as microbes, heavy metals, synthetic organics, volatile organics, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, radionuclides, endocrine disruptors, personal care products etc. It’s important to be aware of possible contaminants so you can prevent any water borne health problems.
Following are the primary categories of contaminants in tap water.
· Chlorine, Chloramines, Chlorine Dioxide (disinfectants)
· TTHMs, Haloacetic Acid (disinfection byproducts – DBP’s)
· Fluoride (Hexafluorosilisic Acid)
· Aluminum (from aluminum sulfate flocculation)
· SOCs (pesticides and synthetic chemicals of all types)
· EDCs (plastics, drugs, pharmaceuticals of all types)
· PPCPs (ingredients used in personal care products)
· Glyphosate (Monsanto RoundUp herbicide)
· Bacteria, Virus, Protozoa, Helminths
How to ensure water quality?
So with all these possible contaminants how do you make sure that the water you’re drinking is pure? Most of the times your city municipality authorities treat the water supply to remove the main contaminants. Water is drawn from lakes and rivers, the municipal facilities then filter the water and disinfect it before pumping the water to your home in a state that is generally safe to drink without the need for further treatment. Drinking water quality is tested by the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies. Despite the regular monitoring, it is possible for contaminants to enter the water supply. In addition, sometimes the disinfectants can leave by products that may not be ideal to ingest over long periods of time. In such cases filtering your tap water can be useful.
Whether at large filtration plants or at home, water treatment usually involves the following processes.
Filtration process can effectively remove odors and taste from water. It includes both mechanical filters (for removing suspended particulates) and activated carbon filters (for removing organic compounds). Other types of filters include oxidizing and neutralizing filters. This process does not completely remove all contaminants so it is often followed by another treatment process.
Distillation is one of the most effective methods of purifying water. However, it is not advisable to only use distilled water for drinking. The reason is that the distillation process also removes many trace minerals from the water which are required by the body.
· Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis process forces pressurized water through a fine membrane, removing 90% of the contaminants. Reverse osmosis units are often used in combination with mechanical filters. These are suitable for home use.
· Ion Exchange
This method is used to remove hardness from water. Hard water is characterized by excess mineral content e.g. calcium, magnesium, manganese etc. In addition to unpleasant taste, it leaves salt deposits and is difficult to use with soap. Ion Exchange method replaces the minerals with sodium. Ion Exchange units or water softener are suitable for household use but require regular maintenance.
Usually the last step of the water treatment process, disinfection removes microorganisms from the water. There are many methods of disinfection including addition of chlorine, exposure to UV light, ozonation, and boiling water for 3 minutes. Ozonation is the treatment of water by exposure to ozone generated through high-voltage current and is the most effective method. However, it’s not available for home use.
If you’re concerned about the water quality in your home, consider investing in a water filter. There are two options.
1. Point of entry (POE) systems: These can be installed at your storage tank or the main supply point and can filter all water in your home so you can use clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing. These types of treatment options are more expensive.
2. Point of use (POU) systems: These systems are less expensive and are usually installed on the taps and faucets. They often utilize activated charcoal filters that can be easily replaced.
Some tips for Point of Use water treatment systems.
· Only use carbon filters on known low-contaminant water supplies. Avoid cheap carafe carbon filters.
· Never consider a Zero Water filter as the technology is not reliable.
· All shower filters are inadequate in removing the necessary contaminants. A POE system is required if you need clean water for shower.
· Avoid Reverse Osmosis systems with sealed storage tanks. They can become microbial incubators and compromise the health of users.
· Avoid multi-layered media filters with exaggerated claims and no certified test reports.
· Only purchase POU devices that are tested and certified.