Make Your Drinking Water Safe
With all the horror stories coming out these days about the water you drink, it is hard to know who to trust and what water is best for you. You have always used the tap water out of your own sink, whether from a municipal water system or a well. Bottled water gets the job done sometimes, when convenient. But, what are the facts? The truth is that there are contaminants in all three of those water supplies, some of which can be very hazardous to your health. Let’s explore what comes with the water you drink and the best way to keep it out.
Let’s start with the tap water in your home that comes from municipal water systems. This is the water that is treated at water treatment plants. It is purified according to certain regulations and then sent out to our homes. However, many contaminants still exist in this water, many not even regulated to be removed. These contaminants consist of microorganisms, disinfectants and their byproducts, inorganic chemicals, and radionuclides. Also being passed through are medications that have not been weeded out during the cleansing process. All of these contaminants have side effects and different ways in which they are leaking into our water supplies, some even being added for specific reasons.
The microorganisms that are present usually end up there from human and animal fecal waste or from bacteria that are naturally present in the environment. The effects that these have on us include gastrointestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and pneumonia.
Disinfectants and their byproducts are actually added to the water to control the microbes that are present. However, the health risks associated with these are anemia, eye and nose irritation, stomach discomfort, and nervous system effects.
The inorganic chemicals found in water come from a number of places. These include discharges from refineries, runoff from production wastes, decay of asbestos cement in water mains, erosion of natural deposits, discharges of drilling waste, and coal burning factories. The array of health issues for these is much bigger. You may see an increase in blood cholesterol, a decrease in blood sugar, skin damage, circulatory system problems, increased blood pressure, intestinal lesions, and kidney damage.
Radionuclides cause an increase in the risk of cancer and kidney toxicity. These come from the erosion of natural deposits of certain minerals that are radioactive and from the decay of man-made deposits.
The effects of the medications that come from your tap water are unknown. The effects will be studied as long term, as this is a relatively new discovery. Medications such as antibiotics, mood stabilizers, sex hormones, and even just ibuprofen and acetaminophen, among others, are being found in tap water. They end up in your drinking water from human waste. Humans are consuming medications and so they become present in their waste. This waste is treated at water treatment plants and they are not regulated to make sure the medications are removed. So, they end up in your nice, cold, fresh glass of water.
Ok, so all this information means what exactly? All of these contaminants include names that you are very familiar with. Coming through your tap water are E. Coli, viruses, chlorine, arsenic, asbestos, barium, copper, cyanide, lead, mercury, alpha and beta particles, and uranium, to name a few. It’s easier to understand the urgency of this matter when you know what all these categories include. And that is just in the tap water from municipal water systems
Well water is certainly not in the clear as a safe alternative. This water supply may contain bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The bacteria’s effects include bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, and the spread of infection from the intestines to the blood, which can cause serious illnesses. Viruses, as we well know, may cause “flu-like” symptoms, including fever, muscle pain, and rashes. Outside of these symptoms there are dark urine, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and headaches. The protozoa can cause diarrhea, cramps, fever, and mild illnesses that may become serious or fatal to those with weak immune systems. Common names for some of these are E. coli, salmonella, Hepatitis A, and cryptosporidium.
Now let’s talk about bottled water. Many people think that they are choosing a safer option by drinking bottled water. The problem with this is that forty percent of bottled water actually comes from a municipal water supply. So, you are paying for water that you get for free out of your faucet. On top of that, it’s not even free from contaminants, so your money is literally going down the drain. Even if you manage to purchase a bottle of water that is not from that source, twenty-two percent of tested bottled water brands contained chemical contaminants that leaked into the water from the bottle in which it was contained. Obviously, this is not the safest alternative to choose.
So, people have been consuming tap, well, and bottled water forever. You don’t hear about deaths everyday from bad water. The effects may not be fatal every time you take a sip but, if there is something out there that is better, safer, more reliable, and in your control, why put your family at risk? You don’t want to think after the fact that an illness could have been prevented and you don’t want to be worrying about what exactly is in your water and how it could be affecting those you love. There is an answer.
A Reverse Osmosis System is a water purifying system that is installed under your sink. It removes unwanted substances from water molecules leaving the water you consume fresh and pure. It was most commonly used to purify sea water and then for medical and industrial use. It is becoming more and more common as it is available for consumers for their own homes. Let’s delve into what the RO, or hyper filtration, as it is sometimes called, system is all about.
A Reverse Osmosis system is composed of granular activated carbon (GAC) pre-filters, an RO membrane, a storage tank, and a faucet that delivers the purified water. Basically, the water passes through the pre-filters first to get rid of anything they can before reaching the membrane. Because these membranes are subject to degradation from a number of substances (chlorine, iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide), the pre-filters are essential. The membrane is semi-permeable to allow only the pure water through while rejecting the contaminants. Cross flow is used to allow for the self-cleaning of the membrane. What this means is that some of the water passes through the membrane as pure water, while some water continues on with the contaminants to help wash them away. This whole system works from the water pressure from your sink. The standard residential water system is enough for the RO system to work, which is usually around forty psi. Ok, big deal. What is so special about the RO system?
The RO system is also called the hyper filtration system because it gets rid of so many more contaminants than any other system and really makes your water as pure as you can get it. Essentially, the system removes bacteria, viruses, salts, sugars, proteins, particles, dyes, heavy metals, chlorine, and related by-products. It also does a superior job of removing most inorganic chemicals, most microorganisms, and inorganic contaminants. It even removes those unwanted medications that end up in your water. Specifically almost everything that we found that contaminates our tap water, well water, and bottled water is removed. Here is a summarized list of what the RO system can eliminate: aluminum, arsenic, barium, chloride, copper, fluoride, iron, lead, mercury, nitrate, asbestos, radium, taste, color, and odor producing chemicals, and solids that have been completely dissolved.
Everyone recognizes most of these contaminants and understands why it would be important to want them out of your drinking water. Of course, like anything else, there are advantages and disadvantages and the Reverse Osmosis system of water purification is no different.
The disadvantages to the RO system are really not bad considering the overwhelming success of its purpose. The fact that it does need pre-filters is a slight disadvantage. The sole purpose of these is to take away some of the work from the semi-permeable membrane. Because of its inherent tendency to break down, the pre-filters are necessary for the life of your RO system. The disadvantage comes in the fact that these pre-filters need to be replaced every two to three years. It is extremely important that this schedule is maintained for your system. Otherwise, you will be drinking water that is not as pure as it should be. Sometimes a sediment pre-filter is recommended along with the GAC pre-filters or a water softener for excessively hard water. This may all depend on the water that is already coming out of your faucet. Not a bad deal for an amazing system.
The other main disadvantage is that the Reverse Osmosis system is generally a slow process and there is a fair amount of water waste. It does provide you with about fifteen gallons of pure water a day. However, it takes about one to three gallons of unpure water to produce one gallon of pure water. While the end result is absolutely worth it, you need to be aware of how much water comes from your faucet every day and maybe be a little bit more conservative. There’s nothing wrong with not letting your water run when you aren’t using it.
Perhaps wasting water is a concern in your household. Another possible solution to your water situation would be the LINX Evolution Drinking Water System. This system is environmentally superior to the RO system. LINX stands for Electrically Regenerated Ion Exchange. This process uses electricity for regeneration rather than salt or other chemicals. Both cation and anion media are used to reduce a wide range of contaminants such as metals, nitrate and nitrite as well as others. This system can provide your home with great tasting drinking water and use up to 90% less water than an RO system. Over 70% of the water treated by LINX Evolution is recovered as healthy, great-tasting drinking water. Another savings is in the cartridges used by the LINX, they produce 1300 gallons of great tasting water before needing to be replaced. This means far less landfill waste than other filter technology systems that may need replaced as often as once a month. And while the system runs on electricity, it only costs about 2 cents per gallon in electricity. The LINX system means that convenient, great-tasting water can be delivered right to your kitchen sink. And with LINX Evolution’s water capacity, you can not only drink delicious water all day long, you can cook with it too. Even in heavy use times, the system will provide your family with fresh water for all of your kitchen needs.
It should also be stressed that the RO system may not be appropriate for certain kinds of water. While it can be used for all water, it is stressed that it may not be the only purification necessary for all types of water. If you want to purify water directly from a river or a lake – or any body of water with large numbers of microorganisms – it is recommended that ultra violet purification is used in conjunction with the RO system. A whole-house iron filter might also be necessary depending on the level of contamination in your water. You should definitely have your water tested before solely depending on the RO system. Its function is mainly for those types of water that are already drinkable, but could use a little filtering for maximum purification.
Most of the advantages of the RO system go without saying. Taking away such hazardous toxins as lead and asbestos from your drinking water is obviously a better idea then consuming them on a regular basis. You saw the list of contaminants that sneak into our drinking water and you saw the list of contaminants that the RO system removes for you. There are no tricks there. What is even better about this system is that it is cost-effective in the long term. It is estimated that the cost is about five cents per gallon of pure water, even after maintenance and water costs are factored in. If you have been going the bottled water route, this is a huge savings for you. Since the prices start at under two-hundred dollars, it is a system that is affordable for everyone.
If you decide that you really don’t need something as advanced as a Reverse Osmosis system, there are other options. Once you have your water tested, you can look under the NSF certified drinking water units to decide what the best route is for you to go. You can do a search under the name of the manufacturer, the brand name, model, type, or type of reduction claim. You can even search under all of these categories if you wish. For example, if you find out that you have a high level of iron in your drinking water, you can search iron under the reduction claim and they will provide you with the list of the best filters for removing iron. This will tell you exactly what product you should use. Or you can say that you want a Brita filter and they will list every product that Brita has for your filtering needs.
Essentially, if you know what contaminants are most present in your water, this is the place to look to find out exactly what your needs are. They list everything from refrigerator filters, sports bottles, and faucet mounts to new parts, RO systems, and UV systems. This way you will know for sure that you are getting exactly what you need, RO system or not.
The point that is most important here is that your water may not be so great for your health. You use the water from your faucet, from all your faucets, to drink with, cook with, fill your pool with, take showers in, wash your car with, and wash your clothes in. You can’t go a day without turning on a faucet, and you now know that the water that is coming out isn’t really safe. Maybe it is not exactly hazardous, but more than likely, there are at least a few contaminants in it. I know that I don’t want my developing child, or my elderly parent to consume water that may do them more harm than good. Do a little research. Have your water tested. Don’t become another negative statistic when it is in your hands to keep your family as healthy as possible. This is some scary stuff, some of which that hasn’t had enough time to be researched. The end result of your efforts will be pure water that you won’t have to question. It no longer seems like a choice that you have to make, but more of a task you need to accomplish. Filter your water. It’s as simple as that.