What Reverse Osmosis Is and Why It’s a Great Choice for Your Home
If you’re currently using a countertop water filter in your Indianapolis, IN home, you’re missing out on the benefits of comprehensive water filtration. Although countertop filters are relatively inexpensive to buy, they’re costly to use over time. More importantly, there are a number of harmful contaminants that these units are guaranteed to miss. For safe, fresh-tasting water, minimal maintenance, and moderate maintenance costs, reverse osmosis is the way to go. Read on to find out what reverse osmosis is and why it’s a great choice for your home.
What Is Reverse Osmosis?
Water filtration by reverse osmosis (RO) applies pressure to water and forces it through a semi-permeable membrane. This demineralizes or deionizes water while stripping away a very large number of contaminants. RO simply reverses a natural and incredibly important phenomenon that’s constantly taking place in plants, animals, and the human body: osmosis.
In osmosis, weaker saline solutions migrate towards stronger ones. This is how water is absorbed from the blood by the kidneys, and it’s also how plants extract water from soils. The semi-permeable membrane in reverse osmosis systems allows some molecules and atoms to pass through while blocking others. Pyrogens, bacteria, dissolved salts, and other contaminants are kept on one side of the membrane, and clean water flows out. The rejected contaminants are routed out of the system via a reject stream that has a higher concentration than the feed water. This reject stream is either fed into a connected drain or rerouted back into the main water supply.
Why Is Water Filtration Necessary?
For many homeowners, water filtration is a matter of preference. Tap water doesn’t always taste as it should. Filtering your water at the tap or even using a countertop water filter is cheaper than buying bottled water for both cooking and drinking. It’s also better for the environment. Rather than collecting, recycling, or simply throwing away countless plastic bottles, you can source your water right from the faucet and store it in refillable containers. There are even health benefits in bypassing plastic water bottles which naturally degrade when exposed to temperature extremes and the passage of time.
However, there are two primary reasons why water filtration is considered essential among health experts. These are the health concerns relating to municipal water treatment methods and the increasing presence of pharmaceuticals and “forever chemicals” in drinking water. If you’re drinking unfiltered water that’s municipally sourced, then you’re also consuming a number of sanitizing agents such as chlorine and chloramine. Indianapolis water supplies are additionally treated with fluoride.
Although there are known health benefits in getting enough fluoride, how fluoride is best introduced into the human body is a matter of contention. With fluoride-treated water outlawed in numerous counties throughout the nation and in multiple countries, the benefits of drinking fluoridated tap water are questionable at best. Some studies show that ongoing exposure to fluoride in drinking water may contribute to:
- Calcification of the pineal gland
- Dental and skeletal fluorosis
- Joint problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Bone density losses
- Muscular damage
These risks come in addition to the renal and liver stress caused by sanitizing agents such as chlorine and chloramine that are commonly found in municipally treated drinking water.
Pharmaceuticals and “Forever Chemicals”
Municipal water treatment facilities turn wastewater into drinking water. The mere thought of this process is enough to send most consumers out for bottled water, countertop filters, or advanced water filtration systems. This complex process involves sifting out solid waste matter, chemically treating wastewater, and then running it through a series of natural marshes where beneficial microorganisms finish the job. Fully treated water is then added to freshwater supplies so that the concentrations of recently treated wastewater are nominal. It’s a well-planned effort and one that’s reliably effective in terms of keeping freshwater at taps without making people ill. However, it’s the contaminants that get missed in this process that are a major cause for concern. These are pharmaceuticals and “forever chemicals.”
“Forever chemicals” or PFAS are perfluoroalkyl substances and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are likely the result of manufacturing processes for stain-resistant carpeting, food packaging, and many other consumer products. These man-made chemicals are associated with decreases in fertility, liver damage, cancer, and thyroid disease. They’re called “forever chemicals” because PFAS aren’t expected to break down within the average person’s lifetime. In fact, they’re expected to last for a minimum of 1,000 years.
Pharmaceuticals found at the tap are equally distressing. These drugs enter the water supply via human excretion and when people flush their unused prescriptions or store-bought medications down the toilet. Livestock and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies are contributing factors as well. Although wastewater treatment facilities have measures for breaking these contaminants down, they can still be present in drinking water supplies at concentrations as high as 3,800 parts per billion. This is especially true in agricultural areas and in areas near pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. Thus, even if you aren’t worried about chlorine, chloramine, or fluoride in your drinking water, there’s still plenty of cause for concern.
How Reverse Osmosis Stacks Up to Other Water Filtration Types
Although the upfront costs of simple countertop water filters are low, the level of effectiveness provided by these units is low too. Many of these systems only remove unpleasant tastes and odors, rust, limited amounts of chlorine, and sediment. In busy, bustling households, these units are also rarely able to meet the demands of residents. It takes effort to keep enough water filtered for both drinking and cooking. Moreover, the filters in these units must be regularly changed. In some systems, filter changes are required once every one to three months. This can prove especially costly if multiple countertop units are used in a single household.
Comparatively, reverse osmosis systems cost a bit more upfront, but they don’t require filter changes at the same rate. RO filter replacements are usually required just once every 12 months. Reverse osmosis systems are also recognized as being among the most effective water filtration systems available. Where countertop filters extract a limited number of common contaminants, RO systems can remove:
- Pharmaceutical products
- Emerging contaminants
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
There’s also the matter of convenience. Using water that’s been filtered by a reverse osmosis system is as easy as turning the tap on. Using water from countertop filters requires filling and refilling these units as needed and regularly checking and changing their filters. The ease of use that RO systems supply makes it possible to ensure that all household members of all ages are only drinking and cooking with clean water.
If you’ve been using bottled water for cooking and consumption, switching to an RO system is a much more sustainable and cost-effective choice. Consumers who regularly drink from plastic water bottles must consider the chemicals that they’re exposing themselves to by using rapidly degrading plastics. RO users do not.
At Cooper’s Water, we’re committed to helping residents of Indianapolis, Indiana protect and improve their health. We offer plumbing, drain cleaning, and sump pump services. We also provide water filtration and water softeners. To find out more about reverse osmosis filtration or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today!