Seeking The Truth
If you are thinking about getting your own reverse osmosis water purification unit and you have spend some time online, you certainly are confused about the advantages and disadvantages that are said to come with such a device. In short, advocates and opponents have been fighting each other for years about the benefits and harms ro water has on the human organism.
Claims have been made by both sides – some of them true, some falls and many of them are no more than myths. In this blog post we will try to clean up this mess and once and for all put an end to the ongoing discussion about whether or not it is a good idea to install a reverse osmosis purification unit under your kitchen sink…
Pros Of RO Water Purification
Let’s take a look at the pros of ro water purification first. True claims are marked in green, false claims in red.
- Contaminants Removal – Reverse osmosis purification systems remove the majority (up to 99%) of harmful contaminants from the water they process including bacteria and most viruses. Other contaminants that get removed are pesticides (endrin, heptachlor, lindane, Pentachlorophenol), particles (asbestos, protozoan cysts) and ions and metals (arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chloride, copper, fluoride, lead, magnesium, nitrate, potassium, radium, sodium, sulfate). (Source: University of Nebraska)
- Improved Water Flavor – One cannot argue against the improved taste of purified ro water. The funny and unpleasant taste, aftertaste and odor your water might usually have will be gone after it was filtered by a reverse osmosis system.
- Tried and Tested Technology – Reverse osmosis technology has been applied in the wine (wine concentration, taint removal), supplement (production of why protein), dairy (milk concentration) and first and foremost bottled water industry (soft-drinks, soda, energy drinks) for many years. It is a safe method to process foodstuff and when you drink many brands of bottled water, you actually drink reverse osmosis water.
- Filtered Ice – Some models let you connect your fridge or icemaker to them.
- No more Plastic Bottles – Once you’ve purchased your own water filter system, you don’t need to go to the supermarket to buy bottled water every again. This saves money, time and the environment will thank you for not polluting it with even more plastic bottles.
- RO Purification Consumes no Energy – It’s a false claim that a reverse osmosis system does not consume energy in order to function. Even if you don’t have to connect a system to the power supply, it still utilizes the energy derived from the pressure in your house’s water sysytem, which is the reason why the water comes out of the system much slower than it goes in.
Cons Of RO Water Purification
Now let’s take a look at the cons of ro water purification first. Again, true claims are marked in green, false claims in red.
- Dead Water – It is true, reverse osmosis purification systems don’t filter out harmful contaminants like pharmaceuticals residues only, but also all important minerals that are essential to the human body. BUT according to the World Health Organization and the US Water Quality Association 95% of the required daily intake of most essential minerals derive from our food. The only exception being calcium and magnesium. About 20% of the required daily intake of both elements comes from the water we drink. (Source: World Health Organization)
- Unpleasant Taste/Smell – The fact that an ro system removes unpleasant tastes/smell from water is something we’ve already pointed out in the above section. However the exact opposite can also be true, if a device is not up to today’s standards or filters/membranes are fouled. The accumulation of bacteria in your purification unit cannot only worsen the smell and taste of your water, it also poses a threat to your health. So be careful what you buy and keep in mind to maintain your system regularly.
- Initial Costs – Initial costs for high-end whole house ro systems are likely to exceed the $1,000 mark. These point-of-entry systems also require thorough installation, something you probably won’t be capable of doing on your own. If you are not an experienced plumber, hiring a professional is what we recommend. Expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars extra.
- Maintenance – You want to maintain your purification unit regularly to keep the performance level high. Maintenance includes sanitizing the system and the tank about once a year and replacing pre- and post-filters and the semi-permeable every six to 12 months. This requires time and even more money.
- Water Wastage – For every gallon of purified ro water, an average of 6 gallons of wastewater go down the drain unused. Of course this adds up to the costs. Adding a permeate pump to your system can help to reduce wastewater by up to 85%.
- Lengthy Process – Depending on the water pressure in your house, you have to be patient and wait a whole day to fill the empty water tank of your system, since only a trickle of water flows out of it.
- Reverse Osmosis Water Leaches Minerals – One myth that stubbornly persists is the claim that reverse osmosis water leaches minerals from your body. We were unable to find any scientific evidence that supports this claim. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that the organization does not support the idea either.
- RO Produces Acidic Water which is Harmful – Reverse osmosis filters out almost all dissolved minerals and metals. What’s left is slightly acidic water. RO opponents claim that acidic water is harmful to the human body. But again, we were unable to find any scientific evidence to support this claim. By the way, here are some types of beverages and their pH-values: Coca-Cola: 3, Apple Juice: 3-4, Wine: 4, Coffee: 5, Milk: 6,5
So there you have it. Make sure to take a thorough look at both sides of the argument and decide yourself, if you want to opt for a ro filtration system or not. If you ask me, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Of course you have upfront and maintenance costs and of course the system will waste a good amount of water, but if you get unlimited access to clean drinking water in exchange, that’s well worth the hassle to me – but that’s just my humble opinion.