Stanley

Why You Should Be Concerned With Water Purification

Water Purification Systems Compared

Before we begin to look at the different types and brands of water purification systems we should be aware of why water purification systems are necessary. Most of us in the first world countries do not really see the importance of purifying our drinking water ourselves. We think that it is only a need which uniquely belongs to the third world countries. That may be true in one aspect, since not every country in the world has enough access to pure and healthy drinking water. But before we make the error in letting our guard down when drinking tap water, let us consider these other factors which can be present even in our government-treated tap water.

Pathogens

By definition, these are agents that cause us humans to get sick. These are usually composed of bacteria, virus, salmonella, and many other microorganisms that may reside in water, and inflict harm to us. We can never underestimate these nasty little guys since many waterborne diseases can disrupt our daily living routine and may even threaten our very lives.

One example is Hepatitis A. The virus responsible for it can thrive in water, and therefore may enter our system. And although we already have very notable leaps in regards to medicine and health sciences, but the ones primary responsible to taking care of our health are well, us. As it is said, prevention is always better than cure.

Chlorine

Usually, our tap water contains chlorine because the substance kills the pathogens that are present and may survive long enough to enter our mouth. But even that solution leads to another problem.

One study revealed that there is a direct connection between chlorine and cancer. Yes, that means that increased intake of chlorine – which is usually present in our tap water – can lead to cancer. Aside from that, this chemical can cause you to have persistent headache when taken in the system.

Heavy Metals

These are available in trace amounts, and usually don’t cause us much trouble if they’re taken in very minimal dosages. But if taken over time, these can become poisonous and may even become fatal. One example is lead, which is originally taken from our environment. We must understand that our country takes tap water from lakes, rivers, and other reservoirs. Our government can only do so much in treating the water that comes from these, like the removal of soil and other objects like twigs and garbage. As an added measure, they also purify our water from all these dangerous minerals. However, not all countries employ the same purification stages and methods, and one cannot be too certain of the water he drinks from the tap especially when travelling.

And that is why you need to have your own water purification system at home. There are many effective methods available in your locality, but the best filtration methods usually employ reverse osmosis and carbon filtration. Others take it further in using ultraviolet to kill bacteria and other pathogens, but usually, reverse osmosis units are already capable of doing the job.

Your health, and your home’s, should be your top priority in this life. Never mind not having the latest gadgets and the hottest signature items – you can live without them. But with all of the contaminants present in our surroundings, including the water that comes from your tap, you cannot live without a good water purification system at home.

Water purifiers - additional information

Pre-Treatment Measures

So you have conducted your own comprehensive water test, and found out some issues with your tap water. What should you do next? Along with regular filter replacement and RO system maintenance, here are some of the most popular pre-treatment solutions that can address the most common problems our reverse osmosis water filtration systems might have in the near future.

Multimedia Filtration (MMF)

This is used as a preventive measure to counter fouling of the RO system. It is usually comprised of three layers of media – anthracite coal, garnet and sand, and another layer of gravel located at the bottom. These have been specifically arranged to filter substances and microorganisms which could otherwise get deposited at the reverse osmosis membrane, which could result to fouling.

A well-functioning MMF can remove contaminants up to 15 microns. Others take it one notch higher by adding a coagulant addition, which makes small separate particles to merge together, thereby forming bigger ones, which in turn can get filtered. As a result, the MMF can remove these contaminants down to 5 microns. How small can that get? Pluck a single hair from your head, and notice its width. Now, divide the width ten times. That’s how powerful the MMF is.

Microfiltration

This is another popular option in preventing fouling from happening, due to the fact that it only has a very tiny pore size of 0.1-10µm. This is very effective in blocking colloids and bacteria from penetrating through the system. Microfiltration membranes are most commonly used for “dead-end” flow.

Antiscalants and Scale Inhibitors

These are chemicals that are added to the feed water, which is the one that precedes the filters. As the names suggest, these are employed to address the issue of scaling. How do they do it? They interfere with the crystal build-up by elevating the solubility limits of inorganic molecules. When this happens, their concentration is heightened more than the usual, and instead of forming crystals, they will remain enjoined with the reject water, thus, will be expelled from the system instead of staying within the RO unit. When using this, you have to find out the feed water chemistry through a thorough water system check, as well as to how the RO system has been built.

Ion Exchange

This is a very effective means to soften hard water. It functions by exchanging scale-building ions with those that do not. This complements well with the Multi Media Filtration (MMF).

Sodium Bisulfite (SBS) Injection

This one functions differently. Unlike the others that address scaling and fouling, this one is a preventive solution to the damaging of the reverse osmosis membrane due to Chlorine. If you have found out that your feed water has an elevated amount of Chlorine, this one can be very helpful. Just make sure that you will do so in the right quantity.

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)

Another option for removing Chlorine is the GAC, which functions as a neutralizer of the Chlorine and Chloramines, as well as other organic molecules. It is usually made of coal, nutshell or wood. Through the activated Carbon, the GAC fights off Chlorine and Chloramines through a chemical reaction wherein electrons from the GAC are transferred to the harmful substances. When this happens, the Chlorine obtains another negative charge, thereby making it a Chlorine ion that no longer destroys your semi-permeable membrane.

There are still many more recent innovations regarding water filtration systems, and it would serve you best to know what kind of water you currently have at home. Take good care of your RO unit, and your RO unit will take care of you.

Addressing Fouling and Scaling

Fouling and scaling are probably two of the most common enemies of our reverse osmosis water filtration system. If you fail to address these, then your RO unit may suffer so much that it may not even take you a year before you replace your filters. You don’t want to spend so much and exhaust so much energy and time replacing your filters and cleaning your RO unit every three months or so, do you?

So how do you address scaling and fouling? The answers would vary, but only so depending on the type of water that you have at home. The very first step you should take is to conduct a systematic and dynamic water quality analysis. Usually, there are professionals who can do this, so you don’t have to worry so much regarding this part. What you have to prepare for, is the regular maintenance of your RO unit to make sure that it is functioning well and is filtering as much contaminants as it should. In the case of fouling and scaling, there are pre-treatment options which you can choose from. Generally, here’s what fouling and scaling usually means:

Fouling

This happens when your reverse osmosis membrane gets clogged with so much contaminant that it does not filter as much water as it did so the first time you have used it. Somehow, this is inevitable, as your semi-permeable membrane only has very small pores which are designed to only allow water molecules to pass through and not anything else. The best option you have is to add a pre-filter to make sure that the semi-permeable membrane would not have to do all the dirty jobs. This is usually caused by dirt, clay, and other organic material which have large molecules. In some cases, bacteria and other microorganisms are to be blamed. For this, you will need to have mechanical pre-filters. The most common are microfiltration (MF) or multi-media filters (MMF).

It is very important that you block these microorganisms because they are the usual culprits behind the most common waterborne diseases.

Scaling

If fouling is usually the problem for organic pollutants, then this one is for the inorganic ones. This usually happens when the inorganic compounds and ions get rejected by the reverse osmosis membrane. As a result, the concentrate water, or the water that contains the contaminants, get too concentrated, and thus precipitate on the surface of the membrane. This is a very serious problem, and failing to address this issue might result to water poisoning.

Have your water checked to determine the concentration of minerals, so you may know what filters need to be added along with the membrane and the pre-filters for organic contaminants.

Some of the most effective solutions to prevent scaling are acid addition, scale inhibitors, as well as water softeners (for hard water). Another thing to bear in mind is that temperature greatly affects the precipitation of the compounds, as well the water’s pH level. Finally, you can adjust the recovery rate so that the concentration of the contaminants would not exceed the normal threshold.

Along with these steps, it is highly recommended that you schedule a regular maintenance of your RO unit, and replace the filters whenever necessary. Being extra cautious regarding the water you drink surely wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Further reading