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5 Contaminants Removed by Water Filtration

Steel Faucet with Fresh Running Water

Garret and Gavin Walters knew their ABC’s and colors, were growing normally, and enjoyed twin hood until their drinking water poisoned them in Flint, MI. The boys are now being re-taught the basics that they have since forgotten due to the memory loss associated with lead exposure. Gavin, at a mere 39 pounds, no longer looks like his brother. Instead of maintaining their childhood innocence, they now ask their mother if the doctors can help them. These boys face a much different childhood than they should have, all thanks to contaminated drinking water [1].

What is a water contaminant?

Water filters efficiently remove dozens of contaminants. Water contaminants consist of a broad range of categories. The effects can be as minor as poor-tasting water but may cause severe health issues over time. Defining “contaminant” falls under the jurisdiction of the Safe Water Drinking Act, which states that any “physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance” is deemed as such [2].

To define the contaminants in water according to the SWDA definition further, let’s go over one example of each (keep in mind, I am listing just one representative sample for a deeper understanding; there are several elements in each group).

  • Physical = Microplastics
  • Chemical = Pesticides
  • Biological = Parasites
  • Radiological = Radon

Thankfully, water filtration can remove the majority of these unwanted contaminants in our drinking water. The best water filters use activated carbon technology and are easily installed on your faucet, your refrigerator, or freestanding water coolers.

woman drinking water from a glass

Photo credit: Pexels.com

What is a carbon filter?

A carbon filter acts as a first magnet for impurities in our water through a process called adsorption. Adsorption attracts unwanted substances via the magic of chemistry and keeps it from passing into our cups. The highest-rated carbon filters for homes and commercial settings often come in a five-stage pack. Each step of the process plays an integral role in producing purified H2O as well as removing significant contaminants:

  • Eliminates solids such as gravel and sand.
  • Refines taste and smell.
  • Further refines taste and smell by reducing chlorine.
  • Removes dissolved solids.
  • Finishing filter to increase water clarity.

What contaminants do water filters remove?

There are hundreds of physical, chemical, biological, and radiological elements removed by water filters including lead, chlorine, bacteria, calcium, minerals, salt, and carcinogens. That is not anywhere near a complete list; however, five contaminants in particular play a significant role in the quality of your water.

water filter

  1.  Microscopic Particles

Rust, fibers, oils, metals, silica, dust, sand, gravel, microplastics are a few of the tiny invaders floating around in our water. The first stage in water filtration is to show them the exit door.

  1.  Chlorine

Chlorine is widely used as an effective sanitation agent. It works great but often leaves behind an unpleasant taste and smell. Chlorine has also been shown to increase cancer risks by as much as 93% [3]. Chlorine alone is not the whole problem; it is the combination of chlorine with other compounds in our water. We all know that mixing chemicals is a bad idea; drinking them is even worse. Chlorine can also cause stomach issues by eliminating beneficial bacteria and precipitating a weakened immune system.

  1.  Radium

Radium is a radioactive material found naturally in the earth. Radium offers no smell or taste to announce its presence. Instead, this poison silently enters our bodies and replaces calcium. This process leads to bone degradation. Exposure to radium can lead to nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, and of course, cancer.

  1.  Lead

Lead is particularly detrimental to children, and the effects of lead poisoning will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, drinking water makes up a significant portion of exposure sources, which can result in high blood pressure, kidney damage, developmental issues, and brain damage.

  1.  Arsenic

Arsenic can leach into our water supply via certain rock formations or runoff from industry and agriculture. Long-term ingestion of arsenic can lead to diabetes, skin lesions, and cancer. Of course, the grand finale of unusually high consumption is death.

Water filters reduce all of these harmful elements for a great-tasting, safe final product. Water filters can be used to treat your entire house or as a source for drinking and cooking. Do not confuse these powerful systems with water softeners. Water filters are designed to increase the quality of your water. The role of water softeners is to reduce the hardness of your tap water.

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Additional resources:

Thank you:

  • [1] https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/31/health/iyw-flint-water-crisis-two-years-later/index.html
  • [2] https://www.epa.gov/ccl/definition-contaminant
  • [3] https://foodrevolution.org/blog/chlorine-water-harmful/

 

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