water

What’s the Function of Functional Water?

Everything You Want to Know about the Hottest Trend in the Wellness World

With something so pure and simple as water, you’d think that when it came to hydration options that the choice should be clear. But leave it to the ever-growing consumer market to unleash a deluge of new drinking water trends. The already oversaturated bottled water market has led manufacturers to focus on setting their product apart. How are brands doing this with something as basic as water? The answer: Functionality.

Plain, old H2O is now having to stand up against hip, trendy options like protein water, alkaline water, and even caffeinated water. As consumers angle away from sugary, calorie-dense sodas,  functional waters are gaining more and more space on store shelves. Many of these brands are touting an array of health benefits–ranging from preventing cancer to reducing anxiety.

Reports suggest that the functional water market is set to double by 2020. We’ve done some digging into the most talked about functional water trends and are here to report what we’ve learned.

What Exactly is Functional Water?

Functional water is “enhanced” drinking water aspiring to improve your health. Some are chemically altered (i.e. by adding increased oxygen or hydrogen); some are simply infused with oils, extract, or flavors. While bottled water has long been criticized for contributing to environmental waste, the convenience and potential added perks of functional water has kept the industry not only afloat, but booming.

Some of the biggest players in the game have created not only new types of products, but all-out crazes. We’ve investigated the following functional water fads and will let you know if we’re drinking the kool-aid (so-to-speak):

  • Alkaline Water

  • Hydrogen-Rich Water

  • Electrolyte Water

  • Caffeinated Water

  • Infused Water

Alkaline Water

We’ve already done some myth-busting in regards to alkaline water on Tips for Taps. But we’ll do a little recap...

What is alkaline water?

The rage around alkaline water surrounds its pH (potential hydrogen). A measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water, pH is a logarithmic scale ranging from 0 to 14. Each step of the scale corresponds to a ten-fold change in acidity–liquids closer to 0 are very acidic, and those nearer 14 are very alkaline. Pure water has a pH of 7.0 (and is considered “neutral”).

Alkaline water generally has a pH between 7 and 9.5–and with that higher pH, it also has a higher concentration of alkalizing compounds (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium).

What’s the claim?

Alkaline evangelists claim that by neutralizing acid in the body (via consuming alkaline food/beverages), the following will occur:

  • Increased fertility

  • Increased energy

  • Regulate your internal pH level

  • Prevent diabetes

The list goes on and on. Some even purport that that alkaline water prevents cancer. (Hint: it doesn’t). But, how did these grandiose, cure-all claims come to be? Here’s the general (and flawed) logic:

Cancerous cells can’t survive in a highly alkaline environment. This is true. Additionally, areas in close proximity to the cancer cells turn acidic–also correct. Therefore, it follows that if you increase your body’s overall alkalinity, you can kill/prevent cancer cells from growing.

What’s the verdict?

While that logic above appears to (almost) add up, there is one key issue with this claim: while cancer cells can’t live in highly alkaline environments, neither can any of your other cells.

So even if alkaline water were able to shift your body’s acid-alkaline balance (which it can’t, by the way), it wouldn’t be good news for any cells in your body (forget just the cancerous cells). Your body works hard to maintain a safe pH environment of around 7.4–pretty much no matter what. The scientific community has yet to rally behind the miracle properties of alkaline water. What is known is that if you do drink lots of the alkaline liquid, most of what happens is that you excrete alkaline urine.

Hydrogen-Rich Water

What is hydrogen-rich water?

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this particular functional water fad–as it is often confused as alkaline water, or even as water molecules with “extra” hydrogens. It’s neither of these things. Simply put, hydrogen-rich water is just infused with molecular hydrogen by dissolving H2 gas dissolved in the water.  

What’s the claim?

The hype surrounding hydrogen-rich water is predicated on the fact that hydrogen shows antioxidant activity that results in lower “oxidative stress” which is associated with negative health outcomes. Proponents claim that hydrogen-rich water protects against free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to disease.

What’s the verdict?

Hydrogen-infused water is generally recognized as safe (GRAS Certified) by the FDA and continues to receive accolades and testimonials from folks who attest to the natural benefits of consumption. Scientists are continuing their research into the potential benefits surrounding hydrogen-rich water.

The bottom line is is that the jury is still out on this one. Stay tuned.

Electrolyte Water

The electrolyte water craze extends beyond dumping Gatorade on coaches at the end of a football game. In fact, the electrolyte-enhanced water market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the functional water world. It is estimated to generate revenues of over $8 billion by 2023–growing at a rate for 10% between 2018 and 2023.

What is electrolyte water?

Electrolytes are minerals in your body with an electric charge. Electrolyte-enhanced water is often infused with potassium and sodium, which can help your body absorb the water more quickly.

What’s the claim?

Useful after periods of fluid loss (intense exercise, bouts of vomiting, diarrhea etc.), electrolyte-enhanced water can help prevent and treat mild to moderate dehydration. It can also help prevent muscle cramping.

What’s the verdict?

While sports drinks do not necessarily contain enough electrolytes to be an adequate resolve for dehydration, after bouts of fluid loss they can be beneficial. However, if you spend your days sedentary, drinking water with electrolytes won’t help you achieve better hydration (than drinking regular water). We also recommend you always take a look at the sugar content on the label–as many enhance waters have additional (and unnecessary) sugar.

In sum, after sports or being sick, grab electrolyte water, but don’t rely on it for regular hydration–or you’ll just be consuming unneeded sugar and using environmentally harmful plastic.

Caffeinated Water

What is caffeinated water?

If you’ve ever had an early Monday morning, you won’t be surprised to know that caffeine is the most popular mood-altering drug in the world. We usually get it from coffee, tea, or colas–but now we have the option to get in from our water.

Unlike the confusion often surrounding alkaline and hydrogen-rich water, caffeinated water is pretty straightforward. It’s water mixed with caffeine–to create a tasteless beverage with a jolt.

Depending on the brand, caffeinated water contains anywhere from 45 milligrams to 125 milligrams per bottle. To put that in perspective, the typical cup of coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine.

What’s the claim?

Caffeine is a mild stimulant to the central nervous system and there’s evidence that caffeine may help improve memory, enhance workouts and boost concentration. The claims that have caffeinated water evangelists shouting from the rooftops are typically rooted in the following notions:

  • It’s a calorie-free way to get caffeine

  • Coffee is dehydrating, and caffeinated water is a good way to prevent possible dehydration

What’s the verdict?

We’ll address the “calorie-free” part first.

Yes, that’s true that caffeinated waters (the ones without added sugar) are calorie-free. But if you typically get your caffeine from coffee or teas–which clock in at 1 and 2 calories per serving, respectively–this isn’t the most compelling reason to switch. While it’s not wrong, we’re much bigger proponents of drinking something out of a nice chemical-free glass or ceramic mug, than a potentially BPA-laden plastic container.

Moving on to the issue of dehydration.

Caffeine–no matter the medium it comes in–is a diuretic. So, if that’s your concern-–it doesn’t totally check out. What’s more is that even if you get your caffeine intake from coffee, you are still consuming water (remember coffee is coffee plus water). Finally, despite increasing your need to urinate, drinking coffee isn’t actually dehydrating. So, that tick mark that caffeinated water fans put in the victory column is not quite as powerful as they may have you believe.

Infused Water

What is infused water?

From cucumber water at spas to asparagus water at Whole Foods (yes, that’s real….and expensive), infused waters can be a great option to add taste without calories. While we aren’t entirely certain why anyone is looking to drink asparagus flavored water, infusing water with citrus fruit or herbs can be a nice twist on the old classic.

What is the claim?

The biggest benefit is that you’re likely to drink more water throughout the day. You may also get some small plant-based health perks–like water infused with lemon can add some antioxidants to the mix.

What’s the verdict?

The greatest thing about infused water is that you can make them at home. No need to buy expensive water that’s packaged in plastic bottles in a store–which brings us back to our old friend…tap water.

How Does Tap Water Compare?

In general (and there are exceptions), these fancy, fad, functional waters won’t harm you. If you are buying them pre-packaged in plastic however, there is the guarantee of an environmental impact. Until more concrete evidence emerges, we recommend you keep to your (tested) tap water–as it will cost your wallet and the environment far less.

For any more questions about drinking water (bottled or tap) send us a message at hello@simplewater.us.

Article Sources:
https://alkalinewatermachinereviews.com/alkaline-water-benefits/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5806445/

https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2016-03/view_breaking-news/functional-waters-market-to-double-by-2020

https://mytapscore.com/blogs/tips-for-taps/bottled-water-when-is-it-worth-it

https://mytapscore.com/blogs/tips-for-taps/alkaline-water-a-critical-review

https://mytapscore.com/blogs/tips-for-taps/your-water-s-general-chemistry

https://www.britannca.com/science/alkali

http://www.myhdiet.com/healthnews/health-news/alkaline-water-benefits-truth-water-alkaline-ph-neutralizes-acid-body/

http://alkalinewatermachinereviews.com/alkaline-water-benefits/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27297008

http://alkalinewatermachinereviews.com/alkaline-water-benefits/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/01/09/no-drinking-alkaline-water-will-not-treat-or-prevent-cancer/#241ec9d02abb

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702352/

http://time.com/4907106/hydrogen-water-health-benefits/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5223313/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/gras/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5806445/

https://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/1730940-electrolyte-and-vitamin-water-market-global-outlook-and-forecast-2018-2023.html

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/water-balance/dehydration

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1150229/

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19692526/alkaline-water-electrolyte-water-activated-charcoal-health-benefits/

https://www.livescience.com/56603-interesting-facts-about-caffeine.html

https://www.livescience.com/5374-coffee-lessens-pain-exercise.html

https://www.livescience.com/29200-caffeine-hidden-sources.html

https://www.livescience.com/6520-caffeine-counteract-cognitive-decline.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19774754

http://time.com/5192272/coffee-tea-dehydrating/

https://qz.com/473224/dont-let-whole-foods-ruin-the-refreshing-experience-that-is-infused-water/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318662.php

https://helloglow.co/infused-water-ideas/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/370249-what-are-the-dangers-in-drinking-alkaline-water/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/bottled-water-costs-us-2000-times-more-than-tap-is-it-worth-it

Nitrites, Nitrates, and Your Health

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If my water is contaminated, I will know, right? Unfortunately… if you’ve been reading Tips for Taps, you’ll probably know the answer. Some drinking water contaminants are completely impossible to see, smell, or taste.

Nitrite and nitrate are two such contaminants, but they are associated with serious health risks, especially for infants and pregnant women. A total of 2 million people were served water that exceeded public health guidelines for nitrite and nitrate in 2015.

There are many routes by which nitrite and nitrate can reach drinking water, and several options to prevent and treat contaminated water–Tap Score’s guide to understanding this stealthy pollutant covers the basics.

What are Nitrites and Nitrates?

Nitrite and nitrate are naturally produced in soil by nitrifying bacteria. A complex process called “nitrification” causes nitrites to form into nitrates, which is part of the complex but fascinating nitrogen cycle. Nitrites and nitrates have many other sources as well, including the atmosphere, agricultural runoff, and wastewater discharges.

As far as human activities, both compounds are important component of fertilizers. With the scale of today’s agricultural activity outpacing any other land use in the US, it is now even more abundant in soils all over the world. In industry, both nitrite and nitrate salts are used in meat-curing processes.

Although nitrite is a drinking water contaminant, most nitrite present in water is rapidly converted to nitrate. For this reason, we talk about “nitrate contamination”, which includes nitrite as a source.

How Do Nitrates Affect My Health?

The EPA deems nitrite and nitrate (measured as nitrogen) safe in water at levels below 1 and 10 parts per million, respectively. However, other countries have maximum levels for nitrate that are twice as strict as the EPA standards and some argue that the US should lower the maximum allowed levels. While there are several health risks from consuming too much nitrate–methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome)–is one of the biggest risks.

Methemoglobinemia:

After ingestion, the human body reduces nitrate to nitrite. Nitrite then converts normal hemoglobin (Hb), a protein in blood that transports oxygen to bodily tissues, to methemoglobin (metHb), which cannot transport oxygen. Thus, high concentrations of nitrates in drinking water can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia – leading to critical oxygen deficiency in the body.

Methemoglobinemia can lead to cyanosis, a skin discoloration, or even asphyxia - suffocation - at high concentrations.

In adults, a very high concentration of nitrate (unlikely to be consumed) is necessary to result in methemoglobinemia. Infants produce nitrite faster and are less resistant to its effects than adults. Methemoglobinemia is often referred to as “blue baby syndrome” because infants impacted by it can appear blue from lack of oxygen.

Blue baby syndrome is also a risk to fetuses in utero, so pregnant mothers are should test their water for nitrates especially if they live near agricultural lands and rely on private wells.

Other Health Risks:

There are several other health risks associated with nitrate in water, including thyroid issues, birth defects, and cancer.

How do Nitrates Get in My Drinking Water?

Nitrites and nitrates can enter your drinking water from a variety of sources. Your exposure pathway and solutions are different, as you might expect, if you get your water from a water system or a private well.

Public Water System

The highest risk of contamination is from nitrates in private wells, though hundreds of thousands of Americans are exposed to nitrates in public water systems. EPA found that water systems violating the 10 mg/L MCL for nitrates has actually been increasing. Water systems often rely on their own groundwater wells for source water, meaning nitrites and nitrates enter water treatment plants similarly to the way they might for a private well.

Private Well

If you rely on private well water, you are more at risk of nitrate contamination if your well is near the following areas commonly associated with nitrate contamination:

  1. Livestock or animal farms

  2. A septic system

  3. Agricultural land

  4. Neighbors overzealous with garden fertilizer

Nitrates and nitrites are readily mobilized in water. As excess levels are often applied to land for growing crops and livestock manure may not be properly managed, nitrates readily run into groundwater pumped up by wells.

What Should I Do About Nitrate in My Water?

Testing:

Nitrate and nitrite are colorless, odorless, and tasteless compounds. That means they are impossible to detect without laboratory testing. The first step is to test your water. Tap Score’s well water and city water tests all include a nitrate screen. If you are in an at-risk environment (e.g. near agriculture), we recommend a higher-resolution test for nitrate (again, this is the most common form in your water and is measured as nitrogen). You might also consider testing for nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria.

Solutions:

If you find nitrates in your drinking water source, and you have an infant, do not feed your infant formula with the drinking water.

You will likely need to treat your water by installing an at-home treatment system such as those involving reverse osmosis, ion exchange, or distillation. Unless you are regularly testing the safety of your water treatment system, however, it is recommended that you do not use the water source with infants under six months old.

Though it is commonly believed that boiling water will remove contaminants, boiling water will not remove nitrite/nitrate and will actually increase their concentrations by evaporating some of the water around them.

If you have a private well, you should have it inspected and check the casings and fittings – any damage could enable seepage from shallow groundwater containing nitrates. Finally, remove any potential sources within close proximity to the well–e.g. improperly managed animal manure or fertilizer use.

Questions?

Send any concerns or inquiry to Tap Score and you’ll be dispatched to a water quality expert in no time – hello@simplewater.us.

Sources:

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/nitratenitrite2ndadd.pdf

https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/rwqcb3/water_issues/programs/gap/docs/salinas_pajro_valley_proj_2012-2013/gap_nitrate_fact_sheet_121613.pdf 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1071541/ https://www.ewg.org/research/pouring-it/health-effects-nitrate-exposure#.W2OD89JKg2x

https://safewater.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/211401718-4-What-are-EPA-s-drinking-water-regulations-for-nitrate-

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320541734_Trends_in_Drinking_Water_Nitrate_Violations_Across_the_United_States

 https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_report.cfm?direntryid=337186 

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-us-land-use/ 

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/reports/pacificgaselectric_04222003ca/pdf/apph.pdf

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/nitrification_1.pdf https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/contaminant.php?contamcode=1038#.W2oey9JKg2whttp://psep.cce.cornell.edu/facts-slides-self/facts/nit-heef-grw85.aspx 

Risks of Distilled Water

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What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is a type of purified water that has been boiled until it evaporates. The water vapor is then condensed back into liquid form, leaving the water devoid of impurities.

At first glance this sounds great. However, “impurities” don’t just include the unwanted things in your water. The term covers a wide range of dissolved and suspended solids–from contaminants to minerals. While yes, we all want our water contaminant-free, the distillation process is non-discriminatory removal process that strips water of the good and the bad.

This leaves some arguing that as a suitable drinking water choice, distilled water leaves somethings to be desired.

Potential Health Risks of Drinking Distilled Water

According to the World Health Organization report, there are a handful possible negative effects that come with drinking demineralized (i.e. distilled) water–WHO claims it “might not be fully appropriate for consumption” because distilled water:

  1. Can cause metals and other materials to leach from pipes and storage containers

  2. It doesn’t taste as good as tap water

  3. Can lead to low intake of essential elements and micronutrients

We’re going to breakdown these concerns below. The main point is this: while distilled water is better than contaminated water, it is not better than regular tap water and may even have negative health impacts.

Why does distilled water cause pipes and storage containers to leach undesirable contaminants?

If you store distilled water for drinking, you may be at risk of consuming parts of the container you store the water in. Because low- or demineralized water is molecularly unstable, it is “highly aggressive” to materials with which it contacts. Subsequently, distilled water can leach undesirable compounds from any material it comes in contact with.

Distilled water more readily dissolves plastics, (heavy) metals, and some organic substances from pipes, coatings, storage tanks and containers. As a result, you may wind up consuming them instead.

If you do drink distilled water, we recommend that you store it in glass.

Why does distilled water taste worse than regular tap water?

It is often reported that distilled water doesn’t taste as good as tap water. Some even claim it is less thirst quenching.

Why? Isn’t it just water?

When distilled water is created through the boiling process, the dissolved air within leaves the water. Subsequently, this results in a flat taste. Additionally, along with the loss of the dissolved air, calcium is also eliminated–which, when present, often contributes to water’s pleasant taste.

While neither flat taste nor lack of thirst-quenching are considered to be health effects, they could have some very real implications–as it may affect the amount of water one drinks.

How does distilled water impact nutrient intake?

While regular tap water is generally not a major source of nutrients, its contribution may be significant to your health–particularly when it comes to calcium and magnesium. As a World Health Organization (WHO) report notes, the typical modern diet may provide inadequate amounts of minerals and microelements. Subsequently, if faced with borderline deficiency of particular element, the relatively low intake of the element from drinking water may play a protective role in your health.

Elements in drinking water are usually present as free ions (rather than being bound to other substances when in food), making them more readily absorbed in the body.

In fact, the same WHO report goes on to discuss a handful of epidemiological studies from the past half century that indicate that water low in calcium and magnesium (also known as ‘soft water’) is associated with the following (when compared to hard water):

  1. Increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease

  2. A higher risk of fracture in children

  3. Certain neurodegenerative diseases

  4. Preterm birth and low weight at birth

What are the Uses of Distilled Water?

While we don’t typically recommend drinking distilled water, it certainly has its merits. Distilled water is often used for in laboratories for experiments, as well as for a variety of industrial applications. It is also a good choice for humidifiers, aquariums, and for use in cooling systems (as many many minerals found in tap water can damage lead-acid batteries).

What it Boils Down To

While we (generally) recommend drinking tap water over distilled water, this only holds true if you know what’s flowing from your tap. You should always test your water before making a definitive decision as to what is the best choice for you. If you find that  you have low-quality or contaminated tap water, then distilled water is a better (and safer) choice

Check our our water testing packages to make an informed decision or send us a message at hello@simplewater.us for more information! 


Sources:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/372479-what-are-the-dangers-of-drinking-distilled-water/

https://lifehacker.com/here-are-all-the-ways-you-should-be-using-distilled-wat-1821080543

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317698.php

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutrientschap12.pdf

https://sciencetrends.com/what-is-the-ph-of-distilled-water/

https://www.healthline.com/health/can-you-drink-distilled-water#side-effects

https://city.milwaukee.gov/water/customer/FAQs/tasteandodor/Why-does-boiled-water-taste-flat.htm#.W2uP9thKjaY

Heavy Metals And Bioaccumulation: What You Need to Know

Part 1: Why Heavy Metals Accumulate in Your Food and Your Body

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Picture the food web–an interconnected tangle of species, all relying on each other for energy and nutrients. Though most of what gets passed along from the tiniest microbes to humans enables us to live, a small fraction of it can be toxic. Heavy metals are natural elements that–in high doses–are poisonous to humans. They enter our bodies mainly from lower down on the food chain through a process called bioaccumulation.

What are heavy metals, and what does it mean for them to bioaccumulate? Why is heavy metals bioaccumulation dangerous for your health? We’ve got the answers–and some tips on what to do–below.

What are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals are present in earth’s crust alongside other metals, minerals, and organic matter. Some examples include: mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, & thallium. Heavy metals are defined as “heavy” in comparison to water, meaning that they have a higher molecular weight than 18 g/mol. Heavy metals also find their way into watersheds from concentrated wastewater, sewage, industrial activities, and mining operations. These metals can contaminate soil systems and water sources.

People are exposed to heavy metals in a few different ways, primarily through drinking water or food (crops can uptake metals from contaminated soil or meat and fish products may contain bioaccumulated metals). Many heavy metals are poisonous to humans, even in small concentrations.

What is Bioaccumulation?

Bioaccumulation is essentially the buildup of contaminants such as heavy metals or pesticides in living organisms. Aquatic organisms are often subjectto bioaccumulation because they absorb contaminants from the water around them faster than their bodies are able to excrete them. Humans are alsosubject to bioaccumulation, either from consuming contaminated aquatic organisms or from exposure to contaminants in our food, air, or water. Heavy metals do not biodegrade, which means they can last for a long time in our bodies.

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Bioaccumulation in the food chain begins with the smallest microorganisms and ends with humans. Heavy metals are able to bind to the surface of microorganisms (like phytoplankton in oceans) and sometimes enter the cells themselves.

Once they enter the cell, heavy metals can react with chemicals released by the microorganism to digest food, and undergo chemical transformations. (An example is mercury becoming methylmercury, which is especially dangerous because methylmercury is more easily absorbed by living organisms.) Insects and zooplankton eat microorganisms, fish eat zooplankton, and eventually humans order a tuna to eat at a restaurant!

At every point in this process, heavy metals bioaccumulate in the bodies of each living organism — by the time they get to us, we consume the heavy metals in high concentrations. The increase of heavy metals concentration up the food chain is called biomagnification.

Health Effects of Heavy Metals

Unfortunately, heavy metals can have serious health effects for humans. Many play a role in cancer development or cause internal organ damage, even at low concentrations. Cadmium, cobalt, lead, nickel, and mercury are also known to affect the formation of blood cells–the metals can react with the surface of the cells, making them less elastic and therefore less able to circulate throughout the body. Here we’ve summarized five critical heavy metals and their known health effects:

Mercury

Mercury is known to cause brain damage in developing children, and if you’re pregnant, it can cause birth defects or possibly a miscarriage. Methylmercury compounds are also known to cause cancer. There is a deep concern about mercury exposure through predatory fish such as tuna, which is the second most popular fish in the US. An example to demonstrate the magnitude of the issue is if a 45 lb child eats one 6 oz can of white tuna per week, the child is already exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mercury limit.

Lead

Lead is particularly harmful for children. It is structurally similar to calcium and can therefore replace calcium in the growing bones of children. Once the child is grown, the lead can release into the body and cause brain and nerve damage. Lead can also cause anaemia, reproductive issues, and renal impairment. People are usually exposed to lead through contaminated food or water, or in the case of children, from ingesting objects with lead paint. Lead can be expelled at very low levels, but at high or continuous doses, lead bioaccumulates in the body.

Cadmium

Cadmium remains in human bodies for decades, and long-term exposure is linked to renal dysfunction. A high concentration exposure can also lead to bone defects and lung disease, which may eventually become lung cancer. People can be exposed to cadmium not only through food and water, but also from tobacco in cigarettes.

Chromium

At low levels, chromium only causes skin irritation and ulcers. Longer-term exposure, however, can lead to liver issues, renal tubular damage, and cancer. Similar to mercury, chromium easily accumulates in aquatic life.

Arsenic

Arsenic is technically considered a metalloid, but acts like a heavy metal in its toxicology. Arsenic exposure can cause breathing problems, lung and skin cancer, decreased IQ, nervous system issues, and even death at high levels. Arsenic easily enters groundwater and soils from natural sources and industrial operations. Some crops can uptake arsenic after irrigation or from the soil, an example being rice, leading to exposure through food.

How to Reduce Your Exposure

Though these health effects may seem frightening, there are a few simple ways to reduce your exposure to heavy metals and protect your health! A few include:

  • Avoid certain fish: Specifically, fish that are high in mercury such as king mackerel, swordfish, marlin, & tilefish. It is particularly important to reduce tuna consumption, especially in the form of tuna steaks or canned white albacore. For other options, check out this guide to eating sustainable and lower-risk fish.
  • Read medicine labels: Some may contain heavy metals as ingredients.
  • Minimize rice consumption: There is evidence that rice contains arsenic and thus increases cancer risk. Rinsing rice before cooking may reduce risk.
  • Stop smoking tobacco: Arsenic, lead, and cadmium levels have been detected in cigarettes and e-cigarette vaporizers.
  • Be aware of lead pipes & filter your water: This concept is addressed further in Part 2 of this article–where we’ll focus on heavy metal exposure and remediation. Essentially, because heavy metals can enter groundwater or leach from pipes, it is important to filter them out before drinking water.

Have more questions? This source offers extensive details about the environmental occurrence of specific heavy metals, how humans are exposed to them, and their toxicity/carcinogenicity.

Or, feel free to email us at contact@simplewater.us!

Sources: 

https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bioaccumulation-heavy-metals

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205875/

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Why Is My RO Water Filter Leaking?

Do you have a reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment system? Is it not working properly? This is an article to help you determine why your drinking water filter is leaking and what you can do to fix your RO. 

Leaky_Filters_1024x1024.png

If you own and maintain a reverse osmosis water treatment system in your home, then you’re probably already aware that things sometimes go awry. The water quality engineers at SimpleWater have pulled together a helpful list of the most common problems people have with their Reverse Osmosis water filters at home along with the most common solutions.

Reverse Osmosis: Problems, Solutions – A Quick Guide

Scan the headlines below for common symptoms, causes, and solutions to water filter failures. If you have questions about your water quality or your water treatment system, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our professional water testing team.

Scale forming on the membrane?

Cause: Failure of the antiscalant, acid dosing device, or pH monitor

Fix: Check your dosing equipment is working properly and monitor all changes in water quality before and after the RO system. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.

Iron accumulation on the filters and membranes?

(Leading to a high pressure difference and low permeate flow)

Cause: High iron content in raw water, corroding pipes, failure of media filters

Fix: Check pipes and media filters. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.

Bacterial film on filters and membranes?

(Leading to high pressure difference and low permeate flow)

Cause: Ineffective sanitization or biocide

Fix:  Sanitize all filters, perform microbiological analysis, check chemical dosing tanks; heck for biocide adsorption on carbon filters, check contact times and dose rates, select broad-spectrum biocide for organic content. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.

Organic or humic content on filters and membranes?

Cause: High organic content

Fix: Test the feed water for TOC and color Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.usor clicking on our help page.

Membrane damage leading to high salts passthrough and high flux?

Cause: Chlorine overdosing

Fix: Perform chlorine tests, check dosing equipment, redox meters, bisulfite levels and the general location of dosing equipment. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.

High Salt Passthrough?

Cause: Failure of the O-ring at the permeate tube

Fix: Check conductivity in each vessel and membrane. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.

Bacteria and colloid fouling of micron-pre filters and membranes

Cause: Breakthrough of your media pre-filter

Fix: Wash your media pre-filters and add some biocide. Ask our team for help by emailing: hello@simplewater.us or clicking on our help page.



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