Are water filters worth it?
Think of it this way – every single soul on earth needs quality drinking water on a daily basis. Not one cup, not two! We’re talking of several litres. And if you are watchful enough regarding your health, you likewise need pure water for food preparation and cooking.
By experience, you know with certainty that the tap water supplied to your home is not 100 % safe. You’ve seen all sorts of impurities in water. But the thought of having a water purifier has never perfectly clicked with you. Maybe the costs are prohibitive – or it’s simply another case of a doubting Thomas. Whatever category you fall in, it’s high time you realized that water filters are absolutely necessary for daily use in our homes.
Where do you get your water from?
WHO estimates that about 71% of the world population use a safely managed drinking water service. In most cases, this takes the form of a water treatment facility that supplies hundreds or thousands or millions of people – depending on the scale. The rest of the population get their drinking water directly from natural sources, without necessarily carrying out the required tests on the water quality.
Both these groups get the water from either surface sources or underground sources. Surface water is that which collects in rivers, lakes, dams or the ocean and is replenished through precipitation. Using such water without testing and treating it is nearly suicidal.
Owing to the mere fact that surface water is fully exposed to the environment, all kinds of impurities find their way into the water. These include pesticides from farms, sewage from homes and industries, directly dumped trash, oil from faulty vehicles, oil tankers, and garages, radioactive substances from nuclear plants, industrial wastewater, etc.
The result is water with:
- Pathogens like bacteria, protozoa, and viruses,
- Toxic inorganic substances like arsenic, copper, mercury, lead, zinc, barium, and chromium,
- Undissolved solids like dirt, plastic pellets, pieces of wood and metal
That is the crisis facing the 29% of the world population with no safely managed drinking water service. Even if they resort to using groundwater, they are still not entirely protected from contamination. Groundwater can be contaminated by:
- Leakage from underground storage tanks for gasoline, oil, or other chemicals
- Leakage of pathogens and chemicals from poorly constructed and maintained septic tanks
- Uncontrolled hazardous wastes dumped by irresponsible industries
- Landfills with harmful objects such as car batteries, paints, household cleaners, fertilizers and pesticides.
- Road salts used during the winter to melt ice on roads
Water treatment facilities step in to make water from these sources safer for drinking and food preparation. However, the treatment process in most plants is never 100% effective.
What impurities escape water treatment facilities?
Generally, water treatment plants use a combination of chemical and physical processes to get rid of contaminants. These include:
- Chlorination – gets rid of algae, prevents bacterial growth
- Aeration – gets rid of dissolved manganese and iron
- Disinfection using chlorine and UV light – kills bacteria and viruses
- Sedimentation – Reduces the amount of suspended solids
- Filtration – Further reduces undissolved solids
- Biofilm filtration – Metabolizes organic matter
Remember all this is done on a large scale – and you know what that means. Not all the above-mentioned materials are removed. Additionally, the water has to be distributed from the treatment plants to residential homes. In case the distribution network is poorly maintained, there is a high likelihood for a number of contaminants to degrade the water quality.
Some plumbing materials contain lead. When this corrodes, the lead simply finds its way to the taps. Bacteria can also grow inside pipes and around faucets, especially if left unused for some time. Leaking points along the distribution network can also act as entry points for a variety of contaminants.
Taking all this into account, it is only wise to use a water filter at home.
What impurities do water filters get rid of?
Water filters come in a variety of models and use different technologies. The most thorough water filtration system uses the Reverse Osmosis process. This involves pressurizing water across a semipermeable membrane such that only water molecules pass through while contaminants are blocked. RO water filters can effectively get rid of bacteria, viruses, suspended solids, dissolved salts and toxic substances like lead and chromium.
Other water filtration systems include:
- UV water filters – these kill disease-causing microorganisms
- UF water filters – able to desalinate water, remove bacteria, particulate material and natural organic material
- Activated Carbon water filters – gets rid of water contaminants that make water taste and smell unpleasant- such as hydrogen sulfide and chlorine – through the process of adsorption
To sum it up
Water filters are really worth it. Get one for your home as soon as is convenient for you. Be sure you will find one that fits your budget. There are smaller models out there that go for as little as 20 bucks. Better be safe than sorry.