Water is essential for life. We need water to digest food and eliminate toxins and waste from our bodies. Water regulates our temperature, protects our organs, tissues and transports oxygen and nutrients throughout our bodies. Water lets us grow and heal. Helping to prevent diseases such as kidney stones, cardiovascular-related illnesses and obesity.
Doctors and nutritionists regard pure water as the best drink for our bodies. Around the world, research evidence indicates that tap water can be impure. And there’s no assurance that bottled water is any safer. Clearlly disposable water bottles are not "green friendly". . . they contribute to global warming . . . which results in more frequent and severe droughts . . . making the water crisis even worse.
Clean, pure drinking water is needed throughout the world and is quickly becoming the most highly prized resource of all.
As the news of this water crisis has spread, there has been an explosive worldwide growth in the sales of both bottled water and filtering devices, There is however, no assurance that bottled water is safe; and furthermore, of the over 2,000 different filter models sold to the public, only a handful actually remove all of the parasites, viruses, bacteria, pesticides and heavy metals that may be present in tap water. Cryptosporidium Parvum, for example is one of the protozoa, which most water systems are incapable of removing. This is the same parasite that killed 104 people and made 400,000 ill in Milwaukee.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that in the US alone . . . more than 900,000 people become ill each year from water borne disease . . . and as many as 900 will die. As bad as the situation is in the United States, it is worse in many other developed countries and to an even greater degree, second and third-world countries.
Continually, on any given day, more than 1/2 of the earth’s human population is ill, with the majority of these cases caused by waterborne contaminants. The World Health Organization of the United Nations estimates that 80% of this illness is caused by contaminated drinking water. Many countries throughout the world, not just third world countries, have inadequate water treatment facilities, or a complete lack of treatment facilities.
It is becoming clear that new technologies are needed in every segment of the water treatment industry: agriculture, horticulture, food processing, industrial waste treatment, public water supplies, and sewage treatment. These systems must be environmentally-friendly and rely on methods and processes that are not chemically based.
Drinking water (also known as "potable water") is defined as water which is fit for consumption by humans and other animals. Water may be naturally potable, as is the case with pristine springs, or it may need to be treated in order to make it safe to drink.
Two important terms related to water treatment:
Local water companies are supposed to provide biologically and chemically safe water that has most objectionable taste and odor causing substances removed. As you have read and heard in the news, this is unfortunately not always the case.
Public water purification in this country relies heavily on chemical disinfection. The most commonly used chemical is chlorine. We have to be thankful for what chlorine does. It has prevented the cholera and typhoid outbreaks that can decimate entire populations. But, we also need to be aware of its drawbacks. Not all bacteria can be removed through chemical disinfection. If you drink municipal "tap water", you run the risk of contracting illnesses ranging from diarrhea to serious gastrointestinal complications.
Cryptosporidium is one type of bacteria that is resistant to chlorine disinfection. Government agencies say that no matter how good your public water purification system is, there is a risk of cryptosporidium contamination. They also say that it is difficult to test for. People who become infected by the parasite have, in some cases, died from the infection.
The chemicals used at public water purification facilities are health hazards to humans, as well as the germs they target. They cause skin irritation, digestive problems and have been linked to various forms of cancer. Another problem that public water purification plants cannot address are the by-products of disinfection.
One of these by-products, known as THMs, is chloroform gas. Government agencies have said that chloroform gas is present in most homes around the country. The gas is a health hazard that causes dizziness and headaches, but worse yet, the THMs build up in the fat cells of your body.
In women with breast cancer, it has been found that the THMs in their fatty tissue are nearly twice as high as that found in healthy women. This finding seems to indicate a link between THMs and cancer.
As municipal water is distributed through your home via plumbing, there is a risk of contamination from lead leaching into the water supply from pipes and/or fixtures.
In summary, the contaminants most people using public water may experience at harmful or unacceptable levels are:
Which Drinking Water Option is Best?
With such a risk drinking municipal water . . . most people want a safer alternative . . . but with so many options . . . how does one know which is best for them ? We will try to shed some light on this very serious and confusing issue.
We will be reviewing the following treatments and options:
Question: Did the water in the bottle you just purchased really come from the beautiful spring shown on the label ?
Answer: Probably not
Question: Is bottled water any cleaner or safer than your tap water ?
Answer: The actual quality of bottled water depends on the bottling company . . . some is good, but some is not.
Question: How does the cost and quality of bottled compare with other water purification options ?
Answer: High quality home water treatment methods can usually produce water of equal or better quality more economically.
The advantages of Bottled Water:
The disadvantages of Bottled Water:
Follow these hints
1. Store the bottle in a refrigerator at a temperature above freezing but less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Wipe the seal with a clean cloth after each use.
3. Avoid any type of buildup in the bottle cap.
4. If your bottle is refillable, make sure it is well-cleaned and rinsed before refilling. If possible, recycle the old bottle and obtain a fresh, sterile, sealed bottle."
5. 5 gallon water dispensers must also be kept meticulously clean to prevent bacteria from growing in the reservoir area and bubbling into the bottle.
The topic of water filters is complicated because there are so many models available (over 2,500 different models manufactured by more than 500 companies), and because there are so many types of filtration strategies and combinations of strategies used.
The basic concept behind nearly all filters, however, is fairly simple. They work by physically preventing contaminants from moving through the filter. There are 4 main types of filters:
Filter performance is often rated in terms of micron or sub micron filtration. This is a measure of how good the filter is at removing particles from the water - smaller is better. A micron is a unit of measure - one micron is about 1/100 the diameter of a human hair.
A filter that removes particles down to 5 microns will produce fairly clean-looking water, but most of the water parasites, bacteria, cryptosporidia, giardia, etc. will pass through the pores.
A filter must trap particles one micron or smaller to be effective at removing cryptosporidia or giardia cysts. Viruses can not be effectively removed by most filtration methods. In theory, reverse osmosis will remove viruses, however, just a small flaw in the membranes would allow viruses to pass undetected into the ’filtered’ water. UltraFiltraton (UF) membranes used in EASTCOOLER are the only filter systems that can reliably remove viruses.
A benefit of most home filtration systems is that they are passive. That is, they require no electricity to filter the water. The only routine maintenance required is periodic replacement of the filtration element.
These filters strain solid particles out of the Water and come in 2 varieties - Fiber and Ceramic:
Fiber filters contain cellulose, rayon or some other fibrous material spun into a mesh with small pores, while ceramic filters contain some ceramic media with typically smaller pores than fiber filters. If you take some water containing sand and pour it through a piece of cloth you will get the picture. Suspended sediment (or turbidity) is removed as water pressure forces water through tightly wrapped fibers or ceramic media. These filters provide mechanical filtration only and are often used as pre-filters to reduce the suspended contaminants that could clog carbon or RO filters.
Sediment filters can reduce asbestos fibers, cysts and some organic particles that cause disagreeable odors and taste, but will not remove viruses or contaminants that are dissolved in the water, like chlorine, lead, mercury, trihalomethanes or other organic compounds.
Activated Carbon Filters:
Activated carbon (AC) is particles of carbon that have been treated to increase their surface area and increase their ability
to adsorb a wide range of contaminants - activated carbon is particularly good at adsorbing organic compounds.
There two basic kinds of carbon filters Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) and Solid Block Activated Carbon (SBAC)
Contaminant reduction in AC filters takes place by two processes, physical removal of contaminant particles, blocking any that are too large to pass through the pores (obviously, filters with smaller pores are more effective), and a process called adsorption by which a variety of dissolved contaminants are attracted to and held (adsorbed) on the surface of the carbon particles. The characteristics of the carbon material (particle and pore size, surface area, surface chemistry, density, and hardness) influence the efficiency of adsorption.
AC is a highly porous material; therefore, it has an extremely high surface area for contaminant adsorption. One reference mentions" The equivalent surface area of 1 pound of AC ranges from 60 to 150 acres (over 3 football fields)". Another article states, "Under a scanning electron microscope the activated carbon looks like a porous bath sponge. This high concentration of pores within a relatively small volume produces a material with a phenomenal surface area: one tea spoon of activated carbon would exhibit a surface area equivalent to that of a football field."
AC is made of tiny clusters of carbon atoms stacked upon one another. The carbon source is a variety of materials, such as peanut shells, coconut husks, or coal. The raw carbon source is slowly heated in the absence of air to produce a high carbon material. The carbon is activated by passing oxidizing gases through the material at extremely high temperatures. The activation process produces the pores that result in such high adsorptive properties.
The adsorption process depends on the following 5 factors:
Activated carbon filter cartridges will, become less effective over time, as the pores clog with particles (slowing the water flow)
and the adsorptive surfaces in the pores become filled with contaminants (typically not affecting flow rate).
There is often no noticeable indication that a carbon filter is no longer removing contaminants,
so it is important to replace the cartridge according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
It is also important to note, particularly when using counter-top and faucet-mount carbon filtration systems, that
hot water should NEVER be run through a carbon filter, as this will result in the release of trapped contaminants into the
water flow, potentially making the water coming out of the filter more contaminated than the water going in.
Granular Activated Carbon (GAC):
In this type of filter, water flows through a bed of loose activated carbon granules which trap some particulate matter and remove some chlorine, organic contaminants, and undesirable tastes and odors.
The advantages of GAC filters:
The disadvantages of GAC filters:
Solid Block Activated Carbon (SBAC):
Activated carbon is the primary raw material in solid carbon block filters; but instead of carbon granules comprising the filtration medium, the carbon has been specially treated, compressed, and bonded to form a uniform matrix. The < pore>can be very small (0.5 - 1 micron).
SBAC, like all filter cartridges, eventually become plugged or saturated by contaminants and must be changed according to manufacturer’s specifications. Depending on the manufacturer, the filters can be designed to better reduce specific contaminants like arsenic, MTBE, etc.
The advantages of SBAC filters:
The disadvantages of SBAC filters:
Many people use the inexpensive GAC pitcher filters and SBAC faucet mount filters, however, neither one really provides a good solution for most water purification needs . . .
Both will reduce the level of some contaminants . . . so they are better than nothing . . . But since both are very limited in the type and number of contaminants they remove, and are quite pricey (when you consider how often they need to be replaced) . . . they really are not a very good, cost effective option. Furthermore, because they need to be replaced so often, most people neglect to replace them when they should, which results in "poor" quality drinking water . . . potentially worse than municipal tap water.
The problem with GAC pitcher filters is that they are quite small and since they contain a very small amount of very loose GAC granules, they CAN NOT be considered effective treatments for most biological contaminants or chemical contaminants of health concern. The pitcher filters which contain a microfilter are typically certified to reduce cysts. All of these filters are mostly designed to improve the aesthetics of drinking water (taste & odor improvement) and reduce levels of a limited number of harmful contaminants . . . typically just chlorine and perhaps lead, copper, and/or cysts . . . but are subject to possible bacterial growth channeling, and all the other problems of larger GAC filters.
The solid carbon block faucet mount filters are more effective than GAC filters in reducing contaminants. These filters, by nature, are quite small, though, and because filter effectiveness is dependent on contact time of the water with the filter media, a larger, high-quality solid carbon block filter will be more effective at reducing contaminants at the same flow rate. The difference is size can be striking - 4 ounces of activated carbon for a faucet mount filter vs. 32 ounces for a high-end filter, over 7 times more filter media.
Reverse Osmosis is a separation process which uses water pressure (in excess of the osmotic pressure) to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane. Purified water is collected from the "clean" side of the membrane, and water containing the concentrated contaminants is flushed down the drain from the "contaminated" side. This is the reverse of the "normal" osmosis process, where water moves naturally . . . through a semipermeable membrane . . . from an area of low solute concentration . . . to an area of high solute concentration (with no external pressure applied).
The average RO system is a unit consisting of a sediment/chlorine pre filter, the reverse-osmosis membrane, a water storage tank, and an activated-carbon post filter. They cost from about $150 to over $1,500 for point of use systems.
The advantages of Reverse Osmosis:
The disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis:
A reverse-osmosis system is a good treatment option for people who have unacceptably high levels of dissolved inorganic contaminants in their drinking water which can not be removed effectively or economically by other methods. Water from shallow wells in agricultural areas that contains high nitrate levels is a good example of a situation where RO would make sense.
KDF filters employ a matrix (generally small granules) of a zinc/copper alloy, which eliminates contaminants from water by utilizing electrochemical oxidation reduction. The chemical properties of KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) include its ability to:
Zinc and copper are the preferred metals used in the KDF alloy since both are relatively good reducing agents with respect to common inorganic contaminants (such as chlorine), and both can be tolerated in solution in moderate concentrations without adverse side effects.
The advantages of KDF filters:
The disadvantages of KDF filters:
In an emergency, boiling is the best way to purify water that is unsafe because of the presence of protozoan parasites or bacteria.
If the water is cloudy, it should be filtered before boiling. Filters designed for use when camping, coffee filters, towels (paper or cotton), cheesecloth, or a cotton plug in a funnel are effective ways to filter cloudy water.
Place the water in a clean container and bring it to a full boil and continue boiling for at least 3 minutes (covering the container will help reduce evaporation). If you are more than 5,000 feet above sea level, you must increase the boiling time to at least 5 minutes (plus about a minute for every additional 1,000 feet). Boiled water should be kept covered while cooling.
The advantages of Boiling Water:
The disadvantages of Boiling Water: