Clean Water! The Secret to Healthy Living: Part 2 Filtering Devices and Options
Small filtering devices for drinking water, such as pitcher filters and faucet mounted filters, improve the taste of tap water. These devices remove chlorine and other contaminants for a short time. Their performance may degrade quickly, creating a false sense of security. These low-end devices are completely overwhelmed and incapable of dealing with the huge challenge of many different contaminants in the tap water.
Bottled water is a very popular alternative to tap water. Bottled water tastes better. It is not necessarily a healthy alternative. In 1996, the federal health protection branch in Ottawa released a study that revealed one in every six bottled water products sold in Canada failed to meet federal health standards for bacteria levels. Some of the bacteria posed a potential health risk to consumers with weakened immune systems – young children, the elderly and the sick, including people suffering from AIDS or undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
The quality of bottled water suffers due to number of factors. Bottled water should be refrigerated to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Storing one or more five gallon bottles in a fridge is impossible. Bottled water should be stored in a sealed, good quality container. Glass is the best container. Plastic, made from oil by-products, is the most common container. Soft plastic containers leach chemicals into the water. Plastic molecules can act as xeno-estrogens. These molecules mimic estrogen in the human body and disrupt hormonal functions with increased cancer risks. These plastic bottles are approved for single use, though many are refilled and reused by consumers for long periods of time.
Solid carbon block water filters are very effective in removing chlorine, THMs and parasites not killed by chlorine. Some have resins added to also remove lead. Regular scheduled filter changes plus cleaning and disinfection of the equipment ensure peak performance. Trace quantities of personal care and household cleaning products, pharmaceutical drugs, aluminum, fluoride and other heavy metals are not removed by solid carbon block filters.
Reverse osmosis is a good filter for improving the quality of drinking water. Reverse osmosis uses a series of filters to produce water that is about 95% clean. A series of filters are used: a pre-filter, membrane filter and carbon filter, with the final drinking water slowly accumulating in a small pressurized storage tank. Water wastage is high. Four to five gallons of tap water are flushed to the drain keeping the membrane filter clean – for every single gallon of final drinking water. As the different filters plug up with debris and contaminants, the quality of the drinking water will decrease. Filter replacement can be costly and must be scheduled. The filters plug up at different rates leading to a slow, unnoticeable, continual decreased in water quality. The typical home owner may never know when filters are plugged and if the quality of water has decreased earlier than the scheduled maintenance. Bacterial problems can become an issue within the series of filters and the reverse osmosis storage tank.
Reverse osmosis filters are available as a kitchen counter top, under the counter or a portable unit attaching to the sink faucet.
The majority of water treatment processes involve filters. Filters trap contaminants, can get plugged up and can experience a degradation of performance, resulting in decreasing water quality.
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