Even in the wealthiest countries, the water is more often than not unfit to drink straight from the tap. Water filters that function through the reverse osmosis mechanism are now a necessity in all homes. This article will discuss all the ins and outs (pun intended!) of reverse osmosis systems and why they’ve become key in the health and wellness world.
What Is Reverse Osmosis?
To understand how reverse osmosis filters work, you must understand basic osmosis. Osmosis is when two sections in a closed-in space are divided by a semipermeable membrane. Water molecules can pass through the membrane, but the contaminates cannot, as they’re too big to squeeze through. Osmosis occurs when the side of the highest concentration of contaminants clogs up the pores in the membrane and traps water molecules on its side.
Reverse osmosis uses pressure to blast the water molecules to the other side of the membrane while leaving the contaminants behind. This is the opposite of osmosis and is what you want, as the water that makes it to the other side is purified and on its way to being drinkable. However, it is by far not the only step in a RO filter system.
How Does an RO Filter System Work?
An RO system includes a step before the actual reverse osmosis occurs, removing chlorine and sediment. The water is then pushed through the semipermeable membrane, and solids are removed. The final step in an RO system will run the water through another purifying stage before it’s released from the faucet into your glass.
The effectiveness of an RO system is dependent on the number of stages the water goes through before and after reverse osmosis. You can read more about RO systems and the vast options you have when selecting one for your home. The water quality in your area will be the main determinant of the RO filter system you choose.
There are many options for filter systems that can purify your water of the minerals, metals, or microorganisms that your drinking water might be vulnerable to in your area. However, though specialized in removing certain contaminants, some of these filters might not be able to remove a lot of those that an RO system can.
Any basic RO system should filter out the following contaminants:
- Cryptosporidium bacteria
These are all the contaminants that reverse osmosis filter systems will remove from your water. Other filtration mechanisms, such as carbon, deionization, ceramic, UV and ozone, or distillation systems, will allow you to remove minerals, microorganisms, diatoms, and volatile organic compounds. However, they may not remove the long list of metals, minerals, and other significant groups of contaminants that an RO system will.
Will an RO Filter Improve My Health?
Your body takes in about eight ounces of water when you shower, and it’s preferable for humans to drink 1-3 liters of water per day. This water needs to be purified, or else you risk getting metal poisoning. Overtime metal can collect in the kidneys and liver, resulting in many bodily malfunctions.
The metals, minerals, and other contaminants listed previously is a good chunk of why you should think about getting an RO system for your house. There are several health benefits to drinking water that isn’t polluted with these contaminants. If you live in an older house, there’s a possibility that the pipes are corroded, leaving your water subject to lead and chromium-6. Lead and chromium-6 exposure can lead to cancer, lower IQ, and behavioral and developmental problems in children.
Fluoride is a well-known additive in our water that’s supposed to prevent tooth decay. However, studies have shown that the number of cavities of people in areas with more fluoride is actually higher than those with lower fluoride amounts in their water. Gastrointestinal, neurological, and immune damage have all been linked to long term exposure to water contaminated with fluoride.
The list of health problems prevented by installing an RO filtration system in your home goes on…
Many contaminants are tasteless and odorless, but if you notice a yellow tint to your water, you should definitely test your water. Houses built in the 1980s are more likely to contain asbestos, and chromium-6 (yellow water) is common in rusted pipes. So, make sure you test your water if your house is older. It’s still not a bad idea to test if you’re curious as to what chemicals, microorganisms, or metals you might be exposed to. A water filtration system is much cheaper than repiping your whole house, so consider a reverse osmosis filter before you take on that kind of project.