Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Guide – Truth, Lies, Minerals & Your Health
Reverse osmosis water filters remove 90-99% of all contaminants from water, including inorganic minerals. In water filter comparison tests, reverse osmosis systems always beat standard carbon filters in the removal of harmful contaminants in both tap and well water. However, some critics say that this water is unnatural and is not good for human consumption. Is ultra clean water that is free of inorganic minerals good for human health?
Reverse Osmosis is a revolutionary water treatment technology that was first developed in the late 1950’s as a method of desalinating sea water. Also known as hyperfiltration, reverse osmosis is the process by which water molecules are forced through a 0.0001 micron semi-permeable membrane through the use of water pressure. This membrane allows only microscopic water molecules to pass through, filtering out almost everything else including 90-99% of all contaminants in the water.
Today this technology has earned its rightful status as the most convenient and thorough method to produce contaminant free clean water. It is used by many water and soda bottling plants and by many industries that require ultra-refined water in manufacturing. Reverse osmosis has also made its way into the residential sector and has become a popular under-the-counter water filtration system for many families. However there are some competitors in the water filtration market that argue against the use of reverse osmosis for drinking water and have spread many outrageous rumors against it online in the hopes of discrediting the technology.
Myth #1 – Reverse osmosis purified water is unhealthy to drink.
Truth: Reverse osmosis water is very clean and healthy to drink.
Reverse osmosis (RO) has been called unnatural water because of its purity. Detractors claim it is man-made and unhealthy and should only be used for industrial applications and not for human consumption. They say that RO water is too pure and clean to be good because such perfectly clean mineral-free water does not exist naturally on earth. However this type of water does exist, it’s called RAIN.
Rainwater is water that has been stripped of all minerals and is often one of the purest and cleanest water on earth. People have been drinking rainwater for thousands of years without any negative health effects. Only recently has rainwater been polluted by the industrial age and man’s pollution of the skies. In the absence of heavy natural or man-made air pollution, rainwater can be very pure and safe to drink. While rain water may absorb and pick-up some substances as it falls through the atmosphere, minerals are not one of them. Thus people have been drinking mineral-free water for thousands of years, which is very normal when you consider that nothing is more natural than mother nature’s life giving rain.
With the scientific research that has been done over the past 60 years on reverse osmosis water, none has ever documented any negative health effects from people drinking RO water. In fact, RO technology has also been extensively tested in the past by the US military and is approved for and highly used throughout the military as drinking water by the men and women in our armed forces.
Myth #2 – Reverse osmosis filters remove healthy minerals from water.
Truth: Reverse osmosis filters remove inorganic, unhealthy minerals from water.
RO systems do remove minerals from tap water. However, we humans get the vast majority of our minerals from the foods we eat, not from drinking water. For example, 1 glass of orange juice has the same amount of minerals as 30 gallons of tap water. You would also get more minerals from 1 vitamin tablet than you will from drinking a month’s supply of tap water.
Tap water contains only inorganic minerals which cannot be properly absorbed by our bodies. Human beings need organic minerals which are only available from living organisms like plants and vegetables and are easily absorbed by our systems. According to the WQA & WHO (Water Quality Association – World Health Organization) we get the vast majority of our minerals from food not from drinking water. The inorganic minerals found in water has little to no benefits to people and in fact can be very bad to our health.
It is estimated that over a 70-year lifespan, a person drinking tap or mineral water will be ingesting about 200 to 300 pounds of rock that their body cannot use. While most of these microscopic rock minerals will be eliminated from our bodies regularly, some will be stored in our tissues becoming toxic. The primary culprits are calcium salts and over time they can cause gallstones, kidney stones, bone & joint calcification, arthritis, and hardening and blocking our arteries.
The presence of other hard metal minerals (some are radioactive!) is suspected to cause other degenerative diseases as well including eye glaucoma, cataracts, hearing loss, emphysema, diabetes, obesity and cancer. These minerals available, especially in “hard” tapwater, are poorly absorbed, or rejected by cellular tissue sites, and, if not evacuated, their presence may cause arterial obstruction, and internal damage.(Dennison 1993, Muehling 1994, Banik 1989)
Reverse osmosis water purification simply delivers the cleanest, purest drinking water on the market. What about distilled water you say? Distillation systems are comparable in contaminant removal, however since many synthetic chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and chlorine solutions have boiling points lower than water, these chemicals will vaporize and can be carried over into the product water container actually making the collected purified water even more concentrated in those particular chemicals. Distilled water systems also require very high energy costs to operate and are very slow in producing water.
Reverse osmosis is also the only purification system that can remove the majority of dangerous Pharmaceuticals & Drugs from our drinking water. According to AP news reports provided by this USA Today article & Fox News report – “Reverse Osmosis removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants”.
Reverse osmosis removes many contaminants that countertop and faucet carbon filters cannot including viruses, bacteria, pesticides, arsenic, fluoride, drugs, cryptosporidium, mercury, nitrates, microbes, heavy metals, all radioactive materials, and many more.
The lack of minerals in your water should not keep you up at night. (Just take a vitamin) The increasing amounts of chemicals, drugs and carcinogenic/radioactive minerals potentially found in tap water should!
Myth #3 – Reverse osmosis leaches minerals from the body.
Truth: Reverse osmosis water cannot leach minerals from the human body.
Water is called the universal solvent as it always “wants” to have substances dissolved in it. The purer the water, the more aggressive it becomes in attacking things that can dissolve. This doesn’t hurt the human body, because our physiology quickly obtains homeostasis using saliva, stomach fluids, etc. to equilibrate all bodily fluids.
Reverse Osmosis technology was created in the 1950s and has been scientifically tested in every conceivable way since then. There has never been any documented evidence to prove that reverse osmosis treated water can leach minerals from the human body. The US Navy has used water with less than 3 parts per million total dissolved solids (TDS) for more than 40 years, according to a 1993 Water Quality Association (WQA) report, which also said the Army’s field personnel drinks RO water.
In early July, 2008, the Brighton Standard Blade, a Colorado newspaper contacted the EPA at their readers request to find out if RO water leaches minerals. The EPA spokeswoman said that their organization does not support this idea. The WQA also rejects the idea that RO water can leach minerals in a 1993 report titled,’Consumption of Low TDS Water’. Their extensive research presented evidence that suggests water with low amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS), such as distilled water and reverse osmosis treated water has no ill effects on humans.
Water Technology Magazine also disagrees with this myth giving a list of sources that dispels the false water propaganda. Reverse osmosis water is very clean, and its purity will actually help improve the absorption of all nutrients including good organic minerals. No more ingesting of bad inorganic minerals (rocks) means the body will no longer be stressed and taxed with trying to absorb something that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. Drinking water heavy in inorganic minerals is like putting random rocks from your back yard into your chicken soup. Considering the fact that some inorganic minerals are radioactive and others are toxic, you are literally playing Russian roulette with your health!
Myth #4 – Reverse osmosis filtration produces very acidic water with low pH
Truth: Reverse osmosis has little affect on water pH values.
Reverse osmosis purification may or may not reduce pH levels as it removes unhealthy inorganic minerals from tap water. Water pH is very complicated and pH levels vary constantly depending on a host of factors which can only be measured by water chemists and PhDs. The truth is, water pH levels will automatically change when it is ingested and comes into contact with the food in your stomach. Even on an empty stomach, your stomach acid alone is already several times more acidic than RO water (pH 6-8) with a pH level of 2.
The human body regulates pH levels constantly to find balance and equilibrium. Therefore under normal conditions it will always maintain a neutral 7.4 pH balance. Even eating very acidic foods (very low pH) only alters the body’s pH by a very tiny amount and only for a short time. The healthy body is very robust and it will restore homeostatic pH fairly quickly and easily. Soft drinks and sports drinks typically have a pH level of 2.5, orange juice has a 3 pH and coffee has a 4 pH level and we drink these beverages all the time without problems.
As long as you eat a well balanced diet which includes vegetables and fruits, you can pretty much drink whatever you want without ever worrying about your pH balance.
Myth #5 – Reverse osmosis wastes a lot of water.
Truth: Reverse osmosis uses some water to deliver quality and longevity.
For every gallon of clean water produced by a RO system, an average of 4 gallons of brine water is used and discarded. This brine (waste) water is constantly used by the system to clean the membrane and allows the filter to work effectively and last for many years. Remember, RO systems clean your water and remove thousands of unhealthy contaminants from tap water that countertop and faucet filters cannot.
Reverse osmosis brine water is the equivalent of an extra 3 to 4 toilet flushes a day. You actually waste more water each day when you wash your dishes or clothes than from a RO system. You will probably pay a extra 25 to 50 cents a month from RO waste water.Waste water from RO systems is actually pretty clean and similar to tap water in purity levels. It can be channeled for use in gardens watering plants or stored and used for other household applications. Water that flows down the sink is not wasted and can be recycled into clean water. Orange County, California already recycles their waste water, turning it back into their city tap water.
The truth is, there is no “new” water on this planet. All water is old water that has been recycled continuously for millions of years. We are actually drinking the same water that the dinosaurs drank, recycled obviously by Mother Nature.
Reverse osmosis water filters can remove thousands of organic, inorganic and chemical pollutants from tap water. The water is very clean and pure, protecting our health from chlorine, fluoride, arsenic and even pharmaceutical drugs. Reverse Osmosis systems are typically 4 to 5 stage systems that in addition to the RO membrane, also include a sediment filter and several carbon filter stages. This makes them much better at removing contaminants when compared to countertop, faucet and pitcher filters which use only 1 simple carbon filter. Reverse osmosis systems remove the heavy metals, radioactive materials, bacteria, viruses, fluoride, mercury, arsenic, nitrates, chemicals and drugs that standard countertop carbon filters cannot remove.
Reverse osmosis produces cleaner water which allows for the superior absorption of all nutrients by our bodies, including good organic minerals. No more ingesting of bad inorganic minerals (rocks) means the body will no longer be stressed and taxed with trying to absorb something that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place. Cleaner water will also improve the elimination of wastes at the cellular level and increase our body’s metabolic activity.
Source: Wise, Nicholas . Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Guide – Truth, Lies, Minerals & Your Health:Is Reverse Osmosis Treated Low Mineral Water Healthy and Safe to Drink? [Internet]. Version 25. Knol. 2011 Feb 24. Available from: http://knol.google.com/k/nicholas-wise/reverse-osmosis-water-filter-guide/sgs2u4d4tbid/2.