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Is Reverse Osmosis Bad for Our Health?

| Articles | February 14, 2010

Although reverse osmosis offers clean water the health concerns that hound the filtered water still remains an issue today. Those who sell reverse osmosis products would argue otherwise and insist that they have no health related concerns regarding the water that passed through the filtration process.

But recent studies have shown that reverse osmosis can be bad for our health or at the very least is not really guaranteed as manufacturers or users of the system have claimed. The main reason behind this conclusion is that reverse osmosis is able to filter the natural minerals that water contains. These minerals apparently are quite important to our body and contribute a lot to our health.

Reverse osmosis works by forcing a solvent by applying pressure from an area of high solute concentration through a semi-permeable membrane to an area of low solute concentration. By doing so, the membrane allows the water being pushed by the pressure to pass through and prevents larger particles such as salt, for example in seawater. The reverse osmosis system actually uses several numbers of stages which incorporates combinations of various kinds of filters.

The first layer of filter usually uses a sediment type which prevents rust and calcium carbonate to pass through. An activated carbon filter is then next. With this one organic chemicals and chlorine are trapped. The water then passes through a reverse osmosis filter made up of thin composite membrane. Then after that one would find another layer carbon filter which is there to ensure that any particles that was able to push their way through is prevented from going further.

You can now see clearly where the reverse osmosis process has “overdone” the filtering. Unlike carbon filters, reverse osmosis removes any molecules larger than water from passing through. Unfortunately, the naturally occurring minerals are larger than water molecules which therefore are trapped by the reverse osmosis membrane.

And what’s more unfortunate is the fact that harmful substances like those found in fertilizer and pesticide runoffs are smaller than water molecules and so are just able to pass through the membrane quite easily. These contaminants are known to cause cancer and other degenerative diseases and should be the ones being filtered out. Some studies have found out that reverse osmosis is unable to filter more than 2,000 toxins found in tap water.

Aside from the health issue, wastage is also a problem with reverse osmosis. The process actually wastes a lot of water. For a gallon of purified water, around two or three gallons are being wasted and cannot be recycled.

Nonetheless, if drinking water produced from reverse osmosis is not as healthy as one might thing, other uses of reverse osmosis has proven to be quite effective. People undergoing kidney dialysis uses water from reverse osmosis to remove waste products in the body. The pharmaceutical industry also uses reverse osmosis in the various process of drug manufacturing.

However, despite the advantages reverse osmosis might have it is apparent that other kinds of water treatment offer better alternatives in producing clean, drinking water. Indeed, reverse osmosis can be bad for our health and it would be better to settle with newer and more advanced ways of water purification.

These newer systems leave minerals intact and instead remove all the organic and synthetic pollutants like those in pesticides, fertilizers and household cleansers.

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