Erin Doman on May 27, 2016 1 Comment List of FAQs What Substances Do Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove? What Are the Health Benefits? Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Reverse Osmosis? What is the Possible Environmental Impact? What Can Be Done to Ensure the Healthiest Drinking Water Possible? Is Reverse Osmosis Worth It? Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human need and one which goes unfulfilled for many people around the world. However, illness from unsanitary water is not limited to developing countries. In the United States, dangerous bacteria can enter the water supply through flooding and other natural disasters as well as through industrial accidents. Harmful substances, like pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals, can find their way into our municipal drinking water without being easily detected. Fortunately, new technology is available that can remove harmful matter from our drinking water. A useful piece of water purification technology is the reverse osmosis system, sometimes referred to as RO. Reverse osmosis systems work by forcing water through a series of membranes to remove various substances. The result is safe, fresh-tasting drinking water. Many popular brands of bottled water use this type of purification system. Some bottled water manufacturers use reverse osmosis followed by remineralization while others simply purify the water and bottle it without remineralizing. In-home reverse osmosis systems are also available to provide purified water right to your kitchen tap, eliminating the need for plastic bottles. 1. What Substances Do Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove? Some of the substances removed by the reverse osmosis systems include lead, copper, sodium, cryptosporidium, calcium, magnesium and fluoride. Each of these elements may adversely affect your health if ingested frequently through your drinking water. Click Here to Shop for Reverse Osmosis Systems The adverse effects of lead ingestion are well known. Lead, like other heavy metals, builds up in the human body and may result in neurological damage, developmental delays and even death. Sodium, while essential for health, might lead to problems in people with certain medical conditions. Cryptosporidium is a disease-causing water-borne parasite which is resistant to chlorine. A reverse osmosis system can protect you from ingesting these harmful substances. 2. What Are the Health Benefits? Removing heavy metals and other toxins from your drinking water may protect you and your family from a number of illnesses. If you or someone in your household is sensitive to sodium or other naturally-occurring substances in your municipal water or is immunologically compromised in some way, purified water can be a powerful protectant against dangerous elements. People with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, may be susceptible to illness from pathogens that would not adversely affect a relatively healthy person. In this type of situation, the benefits of in-home water purification systems are clear. At any rate, the fact that purified water often tastes better than municipal water often means that people drink more of it when it is available, and drinking an abundance of water every day has well-known health benefits. 3. Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Reverse Osmosis? Reverse osmosis systems produce clean water. However, because they also strip away essential minerals, there is some debate about whether or not water purified in this way is the best choice as a source of everyday drinking water. Calcium and magnesium, for example, are crucial for bone health. Although these minerals are easy to come by in vitamin and mineral supplements or as part of a very healthy diet, many Americans do not get adequate amounts of these minerals. Fluoride is another hotly-debated element, with some people advocating for its removal from municipal drinking water. However, children who drink fluoride-enhanced water on a regular basis are thought to have 60 percent fewer cavities than children who drink untreated water. Therefore, some people choose to not use a reverse osmosis system due to a lack of sufficient mineral intake. 4. What is the Possible Environmental Impact? Although industrial-level reverse osmosis systems may be more efficient than in-home versions, a certain amount of otherwise clean water is sent straight down the drain during the process. According to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in-home reverse osmosis units may waste between two and five gallons of municipal water for each gallon of purified water produced. This extra water flowing back into the waste water system means a higher household water bill and taxes the waste water treatment system. On the other hand, having a water purification system installed at home may significantly reduce the amount of bottled water purchased by a household, reducing the environmental harm done by the manufacture and disposal of plastic water bottles. 5. What Can Be Done to Ensure the Healthiest Drinking Water Possible? Filtering water is a good idea, especially if you or someone in your household is at high risk for waterborne illness, or if you know that you would otherwise buy bottled water. A reduction in the amount of lead, pesticides and so on entering your body is always a positive thing, and reverse osmosis is excellent for carrying out this task. One way you can improve the mineral content of your drinking water is by simply remineralizing the water after it has gone through the purification system. Check with your system’s manufacturer to see if a remineralization filter can be easily added to your reverse osmosis system. 6. Is Reverse Osmosis Worth It? If you want purified water without using an abundance of plastic water bottles, installing a reverse-osmosis system in your home may be a good idea, especially if you add a remineralization filter as the final step in the purification process. As always, if you have specific questions about what you need or don’t need in your drinking water, consult your healthcare professional. If you are concerned about not getting enough fluoride in your treated water, talk to your dentist or your child’s dentist and ask for his or her recommendations. When looking for the best reverse osmosis system for your home, check the unit’s energy efficiency rating and try to find out what percentage of the water makes its way out as purified water, and what percentage is wasted in the process. You can maximize the benefits you receive from reverse osmosis-treated water by eliminating as much waste as possible, remineralizing the water before ingesting it and making sure that you are not wasting precious resources by demineralizing non-drinking water. You can do this by installing your purifier to bypass lawn sprinkler pipes, bathroom water sources and so on. You will experience longer filter life and less wasted water by treating only your source of drinking and cooking water.