THE PATHFINDER TO YOUR WATER PURIFIER
The most important things to know
to choose meaningfully.
Purifiers accumulate unclean water and subject it to a process that removes explicitly unwanted chemical compounds, biological contaminants, and microorganisms that can potentially cause health problems.
Water helps the body achieve homeostasis, the process that allows all living beings to maintain and sustain body levels necessary for survival. It comprises approximately 60% of the human body weight and helps flush out toxins and waste through urine, sweat, and frequent bowel movements. If a person fails to drink water regularly, it can lead to severe dehydration and hinder the body's systems from undergoing normal processes and functions. Overall, a person can survive days without food, but not without water. Research state that men are advised to consume 3.7 litres of water while women 2.7 litres.
Everyone must be wary and aware of the different sources of water, what process it went through, and if it's potable and clean enough to drink. Here are drinking water sources you should know about:
- Public water systems give people access to one of the safest sources of drinking water. Thanks to the different regulatory measures, this water is kept free from being contaminated by E. coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, chemicals, and metals.
- Private water systems include the usage of bottled water or natural sources such as rivers, streams, springs, or ponds through their wells.
- Bottled water has the same regulatory measures set for tap water. Although many choose to spend a lot of bottled water, be it for convenience or because of health issues, people should still question the source as well as the treatment used. However, some bottled waters contain fluoride, which is a natural phenomenon for most productions.
The difference between bottled, tap and filtered water is the following:
- Bottled Water is generally defined as not having less than 250 parts per million of dissolved liquids, and coming from more than one boreholes or springs. The sources should also be a well-protected area, and the water shouldn't contain added minerals. Main advantages are that the water contains specific minerals beneficial for humans, such as calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, chloride, iron, and sulfate.
- Tap Water, thanks to improvements in the technology used by water treatments, tap water proves to be one of the best choices today. Mian advantages are a significant source of magnesium which helps cell turnover and improves the consumer's immunity and higher mineral content compared to other sources
- Filtered Tap Water is obtained through water filters which are a commonly used product for the majority of homes nowadays due to its sustainability, affordability, and outstanding filtering process. Main advantages are that it removes large amounts of microplastics and other contaminants, and it allows a significant reduction in the risk of ingesting microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses.
Testing the water, you have at home can be a difficult task, especially if you don't know what you're looking for in terms of indicators and the accepted values. The following are simple parameters that homeowners should take note of and remember:
- pH value, generally the most important in measuring the quality of water. pH can change the corrosiveness of water as well as the contaminants' solubility. If the water has a low pH, it may cause pitting of the pipes, and it gives off a metal taste. On the other hand, when the water has a high pH, it may be the same as drinking soda, with a slippery feel. It may also mean that there is a continuous dissolving of metals. The acceptable pH value is between 6.5 to 8.5.
- Turbidity, a cloudy appearance of water can indicate that there is contamination. Drinking water should always be transparent and free of any dust particle.
- Water Hardness, although many believe that water hardness can cause serious health issues, there are no studies to back this up. However, this parameter, if not maintained within the average levels, can significantly reduce the lifetime of the equipment (0-60 mg/L soft, 61-120 mg/L moderately hard, 121-180 mg/L hard, above 181 mg/L very hard)
- Total Dissolved Solids, is an easy and cheap alternative to most tests done on water, but it's also not advisable to use as the primary indicator of quality. There are noted issues in the values reported in TDS results because of the vagueness. There is no specification regarding different minerals detected, such as calcium, magnesium, chloride, sodium, etc. According to the World Health Organization, here are the acceptable values of TDS: less than 300 mg/L excellent, 300 to 600 mg/L good, 600 to 900 mg/L fair, 900-1,200 mg/L poor, above 1,200 mg/L unacceptable.
Here you can find an overview of contaminants that could be found in drinking water:
|PHYSICAL. There are physical changes noted in the water.||Particulate/Sediment | Note: Particulate reduction is divided into six classes: Class I – 0.5 to < 1 micron in size Class II – 1 to <5 microns in size Class III – 5 to <15 microns in size Class IV – 15 to <30 microns in size Class V – 30 to <50 microns in size Class VI – >50 microns in size||N/A||Particles can come from natural sources in the form of dust or sea salt. It may also come from the procedure of water treatment itself.|
|BIOLOGICAL. Known as microbes or microorganisms, these contaminants thrive in the water and cause health issues if ingested.||Protozoa (i.e. Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia)||0||Human and animal faeces||Gastrointestinal illness (such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and cramps)|
|Bacteria (i.e. Legionella)||0||Lives in water, found in heating or air conditioning systems||Legionnaires Disease, a type of pneumonia|
|Viruses (i.e. enteric, hepatitis A)||0||Human and animal faeces||Gastrointestinal illness (such as diarrhoea, vomiting, and cramps)|
|CHEMICAL. Sources of these elements and compounds can be from nature or are human-made.||Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Note: TDS include constituents like calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorides, sulphates or nitrates||500|
|Copper||1,3||Contaminants come from the reaction between water and pipes in the house (corrosion), and the gradual destruction of natural deposits.||Short term exposure causes Gastrointestinal distress. | Long term exposure causes Liver or kidney damage. | An excess of copper levels may be dangerous, especially for people with Wilson’s disease. Please consult a doctor immediately.|
|Chromium||0,1||Liquids from steel or pulp mills. | The gradual destruction of natural deposits.||Allergic dermatitis.|
|Lead||0,015||Contaminants come from the reaction between water and pipes in the house (corrosion), and the gradual destruction of natural deposits.||Significant effects on the physical and mental development of infants. | In children, there is a shortened attention span as well as disabilities in learning. | Adults are at risk for kidney problems and high blood pressure.|
|Arsenic||0,01||Erosion of natural deposits; residues from orchards, glass, and electronics.||A significant risk of having cancer and may cause damages to the skin and circulatory system.|
|Fluoride||4,0||An additive for healthier teeth; gradual destruction of natural deposits, residues from different fertilizers and aluminium.||Children’s teeth get affected (mottling), and there is a risk for painful bone disease.|
|Nitrate||10||Residues from fertilizer, septic tanks, sewage; destruction of natural deposits.||Infants younger than six months are at risk of having debilitating health issues and may cause death if not treated early. They may experience shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome.|
|RADIOLOGICAL. Elements which have imbalanced charges which result in chemical elements that emit radiation.||Radium 226/228||5 pCi/L||Destruction of natural deposits.||A high risk of cancer.|
The smart version of water purifiers is now available on the market, generally presenting three useful filters that can be interchanged easily:
1. Polypropylene + Activated Carbon (PPC): removes large particles.
2. Reverse Osmosis (RO): this filter uses 0.1 nm precision and eliminates heavy metals and unwanted organic matter.
3. Post-Activated Carbon (PAC): removes unwanted odour and organic matter.
Also, these products can be equipped with a built-in UV light that kills bacteria and viruses.
Generally, an application helps the user to monitor the purifier by:
- Performing countdown and sending notifications for the cleaning routine
- Displaying TDS levels
- Tracking the state of the product and notifying ahead of time if there are problems or damages.
Deciding to use water purifiers can be a big step for many consumers, especially if they’re made to believe that bottled water is the safest to drink. First-time users should know that water purifiers help with personal health: such as lowering the risk of developing cancer due to the eradication of harmful chemicals and compound, reducing the metallic and unpleasant taste of water, regulating chlorine levels, and much more. Water purifiers also lower the expenses, giving access to clean water without the need to purchase water bottles and save the environment by decreasing the usage of plastic bottles.
Time saved thanks to the possibility of scheduling the arming and disarming of the alarm, as well as to manage it from remote.
No direct impact on the physical environment.
Peace of mind increased thanks to increased visibility on what happens at home and a decreased reaction time in case of a break-in.
No direct impact on home costs.
Many find it easier to identify water purifiers according to the main application:
These are the systems used to treat the water directly where people drink it:
- Personal bottles: thought to be easily portable, they filter the water within the container.
- Water pitchers: like personal bottles, pitchers filter the water as it goes in for instant use or to be placed in the fridge.
- Faucet filters: these devices connect directly to the faucet and filter the water as it goes through. They usually include a switch to turn on and off the filtering.
- Countertop filters: these devices can be standalone, requiring a manual filling process, or connected directly to the faucet, using the water straight from the tap.
- Under-the-sink filters: installed below the kitchen sink and integrated within the water feeding system, they filter the water as it goes through.
- Refrigerator filters: the refrigerators use these with integrated tap for drinking water.
Also knons as whole house water purifiers, these systems are used to treat odour, taste and other particles within the water as it enters the residence.
Another way to differentiate purifiers is through the determination of water treatments it uses:
|WATER PURIFYING TECHNOLOGIES||COMMON CONTAMINANTS IN DRINKING WATER AT HOME||COMMON USE IN WATER PURIFIER APPLICATIONS*|
|FILTRATION: a process that removes solid, liquid, and gas particles by using physical barriers with pores and a porous medium. The addition of carbon, alum, coagulants, and iron salts can support the removal of chemicals.||Microfiltration: pore size is 0,1 micron.||Personal bottles, water pitchers and faucet filters.|
|Ultrafiltration: pore size is 0.01 micron.||Personal bottles, water pitchers and faucet filters.|
|Nanofiltration: the pore size is 0.001 microns.||Personal bottles, water pitchers and faucet filters.|
|ULTRAVIOLET (UV) SYSTEMS: process based on ultraviolet light to disinfect water or decrease the number of bacteria.||Personal bottles, countertop filters, under-the-sink filters and whole house water purifiers.|
|REVERSE OSMOSIS (RO) SYSTEMS: the process of making water go from a concentrated state to a diluted state through a semipermeable membrane and filters with a pore size of it has a pore size of 0.0001 microns.||Countertop filters and under-the-sink filters.|
|DISTILLATION SYSTEMS: process for which water is heated to the boiling point to eliminate many of the contaminants, and then water is recollected when steam condenses.||Whole house water purifiers.|
|WATER SOFTENERS: process based on ion exchange or removal to reduce water hardness caused by calcium and magnesium and also work on iron, manganese, selenium, and sulfate.||Whole house water purifiers.|
*Different water purifying technologies can be combined on a single device to increase the purifying performance.
Cells colour-code: water purifying technology is Not / Mid-low / Very suitable to remove the specified contaminants.
Before you choose a water purifier for your home, follow these two preliminary steps:
1. Test the quality of your water. The government regulations, together with the international standards, set the rules if the water in an area is considered clean and drinkable or not. If you live in an area that has access to public tap water, you should make sure to secure all critical information from the supplier by asking for the latest report regarding water quality. However, there is still a chance that the water has microplastics or PFAs. You may test the water through self-test kits, strips that check for the presence of the water contaminants such as Lead, Bacteria, pesticides, nitrate/nitrites, chlorine and more. A second option would be to send water samples to different labs and receive all the needed information and details.
2. Choose the contaminants that you want to tackle. After finding out about the contaminants in your water, you can now decide on a water treatment that’s suitable and certified to cater to your water quality problems.
Once the preliminaries have been completed, it is time to proceed with the selection of a water treatment system:
- Faucet Water Purifier. This type is the most simple and most convenient because they are compact, portable, and affordable. Users install the filter onto a faucet, and it instantly filters the water going through it.
- Countertop Water Purifier. These purifiers are very convenient for many households worldwide, and it can eradicate up to 99% of contaminants.
- Pitcher-Style Water Purifier. Many users prefer the pitcher water purifiers because of the convenience, but it’s not suitable for prominent families, especially if the members continuously drink water, because filtering may take some time.
- Under The Sink Water Purifier. Because of the quality filtering techniques, this type of purifier is a popular product in most houses. These are environment-friendly products that do not produce water wastage.
- Whole House Water Purifier. Once you have this type of purifier installed, there’s no need to worry about mounting filters to each faucet. This product is an investment because it already filters the water even before it enters the pipes of the house
Choosing the right water purifier depends entirely on the origin of the water. North America and Europe use carbon water filters that deliver high quality, potable water to its residents. However, in other states and countries, they use a combination of reverse osmosis systems, softeners, and UV light systems that can help remove unwanted contaminants.
Due to the slow flow of water when using pitcher and faucet purifiers, users find it hard to use them, for example, when filling up glasses or doing kitchen work that requires washing.
Homeowners should generally replace water purifiers every three to six months. However, it still depends on the decision of the users and the manufacturer’s user manual. If you notice a different taste or colour even before it reaches the sixth month, immediately replace the filter.
Some water purifiers require a power source, meaning that there should be a power outlet nearby when installed. On the other hand, newer products allow users to place the purifier anywhere, as it can start filtering even without the help of a power source.
In the case of countertop water purifier, the water tank capacity might be a relevant variable to consider. Take into consideration that some of these water purifiers do not present a production rate of 100%: this means that from all the water that goes into the device, just a percentage of it will be transformed into drinking water.
The technological advancements in the field of water purifiers allow users to have the privilege of seeing signs that help determine the quality of water processed. Some purifiers notify owners with the use of a smartphone application or a change in the light colours, while others have indicators that focus on the level of water-based on daily consumption levels and the quality as well.
With numerous companies trying to sell purifiers in the market, its best to make sure that all information released is legitimate and authentic. For example, the NSF is a public health and safety organization that gives different tests, certifications, and product checking to ensure high quality, drinkable water for consumers. When a company sells certified products, it means that they have completed and met the organization’s safety measures which ultimately give you peace of mind and assurance.
“Drinking Water.” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Dec. 2017, <https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/index.html>.
“Home Water Treatment System Selection.” NSF RSS, <http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/water-quality/water-filters-testing-treatment/home-water-treatment-system-selection>.
“Technical Information on Home Water Treatment Technologies.” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Mar. 2014, <https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/household_water_treatment.html#filtration>.
“Protect Your Home's Water.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Aug. 2019, <https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/protect-your-homes-water>.