Is RO Water Harmful? Good For Health? Safe to Drink?

Is RO Water harmful? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? After all, RO technology has promised to offer safe drinking water solutions to the world. So, what has suddenly got the world into re-thinking our drinking water choices? Well, to start with, it is curiosity, insight, and a little bit of Science falling into place. RO became a household name somewhere in the mid-20th Century. Today, there are around 16000 desalination plants across the world, with the largest ones located in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. These plants are responsible for the process of reverse osmosis that desalinates the seawater into drinking water.

It is not an exaggeration to claim that the process of desalination has been around for a couple of hundreds of years. The basic desalination process involved heating water and subsequent condensation of steam, also known as distillation. However, this immensely expensive process became a worldwide commercial success with the advent of the RO machines. The mechanism comprised of a fine membrane that had water pushed through it. This is an electrically operated machine that could offer you ‘pure drinking water after the harmful chemicals and impurities are successfully filtered out from the source. Soon, enough the world was in love with the entire idea of pure drinking water.

What’s more? Various brands and manufacturers kept competing to offer the users’ purer than pure’ drinking water. But, just how pure should ‘pure’ be? After all, it is dead water that we are happily consuming day after day. Surely enough, various research and study came up with findings and results that depicted that the RO treated water was not exactly ‘all-healthy as expected. It was more harmful than healthy with the baggage of side-effects to cater to. This often led to one wondering, is RO Water safe to drink? Well, the bad news is that RO is not your typical idea of ‘in Pink of health’ after all.

Is RO Water Harmful

As per the reports released by the WHO, drinking water should comprise of the following composition:

Magnesium: 10mg/l

Dissolved Salts: 100 mg/l

Calcium : 30 mg/l

Bicarbonate ion: 30 mg/l

In the same thread of thought, the report further pays emphasis to the fact that regular drinking water should contain a balanced amount of salts. Lack of essential minerals can render the water unhealthy with frequent consumption. Once this dead water is consumed frequently, one can suffer from grave consequences. Here are a few health hazards that have been found in people with frequent RO water consumption. This includes extreme cases of Cardiovascular diseases, neuronal motor diseases, complications in pregnancy, increased cases of infant deaths, Cancer, and fracture in children.

How Pure Should Pure Be: The After Effects of RO

How does RO water good for health? Well, to start with, it is not exactly all that great when it comes to offering you good health. This is because demineralized water dissolves salt and minerals to ‘balance itself out’ only to be urinated later. This, in turn, deprives the body of necessary salts and minerals, hence causing major problems in the long run. As essential elements are present in the body as free ions, these get readily absorbed from the body’s water compared to the food. Hence, dead water does nothing about offering your body the required salts, minerals, and elements as recommended.

EPA recommends a TDS of 500 ppm in case of drinking water. Likewise, the pH of the drinking water needs to be 6.5 to 9.5. Any value below 6.5 is considered Acidic, something that the RO water has the dangers of being. This is quite equivalent to Milk and Carbonated water being hazardous to our health due to the acidic pH levels.

Health Concerns Arising Due to RO Water Consumption

It does not stop here. The desalinated water from your RO system can also evoke a chain-reaction of illness as a result:

Lack of Calcium

This is an important element that is vital for bone development, heart functions, muscle contractions, and more. However, the dead water is deprived of this important element; thus, you can develop a battery of health problems in the long run. This includes bone fractures, tooth decay, insufficient blood clotting, and more.

Lack of Magnesium

This is yet another essential element that is important for the overall development of the body. It is especially important for Brain development and balanced functioning. Also, Magnesium ensures balanced blood pressure and keeps the inflammation at bay. With the dead water, lack of Magnesium can lead to illnesses that comprise heart diseases, Osteoporosis, and Type-2 Diabetes.

Water Wastage

There is no denying the fact that a ‘ton’ of water is wasted during the process of Reverse Osmosis. This almost accounts for 1 Liter for every 5 litres that are purified. Imagine the loss of water that is caused as a result that can further be a matter of concern, especially in areas already suffering from water shortage. Not just that; this has posed a major concern by the environmentalists that the water extracted from the RO system is not exactly ‘filthy’ to be simply disposed of. In a country like India, there has been a 200 per cent wastage of water as a result of RO. So, is RO Water’ all-bad?

The Bright Side: RO Filtration Benefits

There is no denying the fact that RO water does offer the user much-required solace from hazardous chemicals and substances that are fatal to health. Certain RO machines can also eliminate the much-debated PFAS or Per and Polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are also known as the ‘forever Chemicals’; something that the RO process has been able to remove almost 99% rate.
Rainwater Harvesting is yet another major aspect where RO purification finds widespread application. While relying on rainwater might be the only solution for many people in various parts across the world, RO makes life much simpler. Now, you no longer have to worry about dirty storage tanks and containers before using the rainwater. This makes it easy to use rainwater for drinking purposes in many challenged tropical communities in the world.

Some of the best in RO filtration machines have the efficiency in eliminating about: 99.9% bacteria removal, 99.9% Virus removal, 99.9% lead removal, and 99.9% Chlorine removal. These are some of the major threats when it comes to human health, and their removal is the entire point of the desalination process existing in the first place. Harmful levels of lead and other fatal elements have caused some serious health problems like under-developed fetuses, stillborn cases, mental retardation in young children, and other such developmental issues.

Is RO Water Harmful?: The Conclusion

Despite the backlash that the RO seems to be facing in the current times, its health benefits cannot be denied. The good news is that the latest RO technology involves the ‘re-mineralization process. This stroke of genius allows the essential minerals back into the pure water after the process of filtration. Hence, you are not devoid of any such essential elements. So, finally, you will be offered back your precious Calcium and Magnesium. Lastly, it is not such a bad deal after all; you get to drink pure water that is not dead.

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