Is Reverse Osmosis Water Safe?
Before investing in a reverse osmosis water system many people wonder, “is drinking reverse osmosis water bad for you?”. The debate over the safety of reverse osmosis water stems primarily from the belief that demineralized water poses a health risk. To help shed light on the answer to this belief we’ll outline how reverse osmosis water treatment works, what it removes, and what the impact of reverse osmosis water on your health might be.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?
Reverse osmosis water purification is one of the most popular methods of water purification today. Reverse osmosis is not only critical to a number of industries, including electronics manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the food and beverage industry, but it is also an important residential water purification technique.
In reverse osmosis systems, a water supply containing unwanted contaminants is forced at high pressure through a specialized membrane. The membrane in a reverse osmosis system has tiny pores. The pores in the membrane allow water molecules to pass but not larger contaminants.
The drinking water produced by reverse osmosis contains very few contaminants, while the water on the contaminated side of the barrier containing concentrated levels of contaminants is flushed down the drain. In short, reverse osmosis water treatment produces clean, safe drinking water without the use of chlorine or other cleansing agents commonly found in municipally purified water.
What Contaminants Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?
There are many water purification methods you can use in your home, including filtration using activated carbon, distillation, and reverse osmosis. Ion-exchange units are also used to remove hard minerals from water. Each of these purification methods has advantages and disadvantages, and none of them will remove all contaminants contained in water.
Compared to other filtration methods, a residential reverse osmosis water filter can remove a wider range of commonly found contaminants. Additionally, the best under sink reverse osmosis systems incorporate a carbon post-filter that removes certain contaminants that reverse osmosis systems aren’t as effective against. These include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), disinfectants, and their byproducts.
By layering purification methods, the best reverse osmosis filtration systems remove the widest spectrum of contaminants possible. If you are not sure is reverse osmosis safe to drink, with reverse osmosis water you will be exposed to fewer contaminants than drinking unfiltered tap water.
Reverse osmosis itself is effective at removing or reducing the following contaminants commonly found in tap water:
- Protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
- Bacteria including Salmonella, Shigella, and coliforms such as E. coli.
- Viruses including Hepatitis A, Norovirus, and Rotavirus.
- Heavy metals like copper, lead, and arsenic.
- Hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
- The water additive fluoride.
Reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing many more contaminants as well. Many reverse osmosis systems rate their filtration capability by expressing the reduction in total dissolved solids (TDS) the system is capable of providing. The best under sink reverse osmosis systems will reduce TDS by 93 – 97%.
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