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Learn More About Water Quality

Learn More About Water Quality

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  • Water makes up more than two thirds of the weight of the human body. The body cannot work without it, just as a car cannot run without gas and oil. In fact, all the cell and organ functions in a human body depend on water for their functioning. For example, the human brain is made up of 95% water, blood is 82% and lungs 90%.

    Considering that water plays such a major role in the function of our body‚ it is not surprising that its purity is the most basic and essential key to our health. But, with global pollution on the rise, are you sure that the water that you and your family drink is absolutely clean?

    Water Pollution

    Did you know that each year various industries release approximately 200 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the waterways? With this number in mind, it is no wonder that a recent report by the EPA stated that over 40% of US lakes and rivers are polluted, and between 30 to 53 million people are drinking unsafe, contaminated water.

    Of course, the water that runs from your tap is treated to remove the majority of these pollutants. But this doesn't mean that it's absolutely pure and safe for drinking. Some pollutants are capable of "slipping" through the filters or can get into your water as it travels through the pipes to your home. Such pollutants can be broadly classified into three categories:

    Infectious agents, including disease-causing viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms, which may cause severe gastrointestinal illness. Some of those microorganisms are highly resistant to chlorine, which is used to disinfect water in most treatment plants, and can only be retained by filters with very small pore size (1 micron or less).

    One of such microorganisms is Cryptosporidium, a tiny parasite that at one time caused a major water quality problem in New York City, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C. It cannot be killed by chlorine, and can only be retained by filters rated to take out 99.99% of pollutants down to 0.5 micron. According to water experts, over 50% of the municipal water supplies tested across the U.S. have Crypto.

    Heavy metals like lead and mercury or iron oxide from rusty pipes. Severe effects from exposure to them include reduced growth and development, cancer, organ damage or nervous system damage. The young are more prone to the toxic effects of heavy metals, as the rapidly developing body systems are far more sensitive.

    Toxic chemicals - chlorine, pesticides, acids and salts, etc. Chlorine, the chemical most commonly encountered in drinking water, is used during the water treatment process to kill microorganisms. It is toxic by itself, and can also interact with organic materials in the water, creating hundreds of new toxic compounds called "chlorination by-products". Prolonged exposure to chlorine may result in a range of problems from skin and eyes irritation to lung diseases, and chlorination by-products are known carcinogens.

    Identifying Polluted Water

    If you experience any of these symptoms, your water may require additional treatment before use:

    • Rust, dirt particles or "cloudedness" in the water
    • Unusual odor or taste
    • Intestinal syndromes developing within several hours to a day after drinking the water

    To get more information on the condition of your water system, you can call your water supplier and ask for the yearly test results on their drinking water supply, consult the EPA's Drinking Water Database, or purchase a test kit which would help you find out if there are any contaminants in your water. If you use well water, it should be tested for bacteria and chemical contaminants at least once a year.

    Water Treatment Methods

    Your water company is responsible to provide water that is safe to use, though unfortunately this is not always the case. If you are using public water, you might experience unacceptable levels of some of the contaminants listed above. To make sure that the water you drink is absolutely safe, you may choose to use one of the following treatment methods:

    Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. Some bottled water may be more pure than tap water, while some may not purified at all: a study had found that more than half of all bottled water contains chemical contaminants. Also, the FDA does not require bottled water to be tested for cryptosporidium.

    Bottled water costs much more than water that is purified with a residential filter unit on a per gallon basis. And, of course, it's too difficult to use bottled water for things like rinsing fruits and vegetables.

    Simply boiling your water will take care of most of the parasites (if it is done for at least 10-15 minutes), but will not remove chemicals, chlorine or lead and can actually concentrate them. Besides, boiling is not a practical way of processing large volumes of water for household use.

    A step above boiling is distillation: the water is boiled until it vaporizes, and the pure steam moves to a different part of the unit where it is cooled until it condenses back into liquid water, leaving the non-volatile contaminants behind. While this process is able to remove most of the contaminants, it is extremely lengthy and uses a lot of electricity, thus increasing the cost of every gallon of water you produce.

    Filtration: There are two main types of filters - sediment and activated carbon. Sediment filters remove hard particles from the water by rushing it through fine fiber mesh or the ceramic media. Unfortunately, these filters are unable to remove contaminants that are dissolved in the water, like chlorine, lead, mercury, or various organic chemicals. Activated carbon filters work similarly to the sediment filters, but they are also capable of removing a vast variety of dissolved contaminants.

    Reverse Osmosis (RO): This process removes a vast majority of contaminants, and, though it is a bit slower than most filters, it can purify more water per day and is less expensive to operate and maintain. One of the RO systems' main drawbacks is that they waste up to 4 gallons of water for each gallon of clean water produced - though some newer RO systems reduce this problem to near-zero.

    Ultra Violet Light (UV): Water passes through a clear chamber where it is exposed to ultra violet light, which effectively destroys bacteria and viruses. However, UV light is not effective against any non-living contaminant, such as lead, asbestos, chlorine, and many organic chemicals.

    A good household water treatment system would consist of a sediment prefilter that would remove larger particles and clorine, an RO membrane for second-stage filtration, and an activated carbon postfilter that would remove the last of the impurities and odors. Some models also include an UV treatment chamber to further improve the purification quality.

    If you would like more information on the ways you can make the water in your home absolutely safe, you can call one of our Water Quality Experts toll-free at 1-866-234-6630, 10 am - 6 pm EST. We would be more than happy to help you with any questions you may have.

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