By the Care2 staff.
Well water usually contains bacteria that needs to be removed to ensure safe drinking water. Often, reverse osmosis filters are used for this purpose because they are effective and remove other impurities as well. But the downside is that remove so much that they also remove heart-helping minerals. Are there alternatives?
• UV water purification system is effective against a wide variety of bacteria and viruses in water including: e.coli, coliform, cryptosporidium, giardia, salmonella, hepatitis, influenza (all types), anthrax, cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis, streptococcus and many more.
• UV light kills all potentially dangerous pathogens that may be in your water by disrupting the DNA of the cell (the cell of the bacterial contaminant) which causes the pathogen to die.
• Ultraviolet radiation eliminates the need to handle chemicals. It leaves no residual, and it does not cause taste or odor problems.
• UV lamps need to be changed every 12 months in order to ensure maximum protection. Look for a UV water purification system that comes with an alarm system to notify you if the UV lamp burns out prematurely. Cloudy or turbid water can reduce the effectiveness of UV radiation.
• Undersink, whole house and countertop systems are available.
• Electrically generated ozone kills bacteria and some other pathogens, and removes some pesticides.
• How Does Ozone Kill Germs and Bacteria to Purify Water? – Ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms. Once of these has a weak hold on the others, and is more than willing to transfer electrons with other organic substances, such as bacteria, and viruses. This single oxygen atoms binds with the other substance, causing it to oxidize. The byproduct of oxidation in this case is simply O – a single oxygen atom.
• Ozone does not produce any taste or odor in the water or have any residual effect in the water, unlike chlorination.
• Whole house systems are available but countertop systems are not.
Activated Carbon Filters
• Treats fecal coliform and E. coli (along with sediment filtration)
• An activated carbon filter labeled as NSF Standard 53 or NSF Standard 58 can treat the pathogenic bacteria cryptosporidium and giardia. Not all home water filters or inline water filters will remove cryptosporidium. CDC recommends that consumers should “look for a filter that has a pore size of 1 micron or less. This will remove microbes 1 micron or greater in diameter (Cryptosporidium, Giardia). There are two types of these – “absolute 1 micron” filters and “nominal 1 micron” filters. The absolute 1 micron filter will more consistently remove Cryptosporidium as opposed to a nominal filter. Some nominal 1 micron filters will allow 20% to 30% of 1 micron particles to pass through”. Solid block activated carbon filters (SBAC) are fine enough to remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Granular activated carbon (GAC) is not.
• Because SBAC filters are so fine, they easily become plugged with particulate matter, and frequently need to be replaced. Inadequately maintained carbon filters can become breeding grounds for bacteria, so the filters need to be kept clean and replaced as recommended by the manufacturer. If a carbon filter is unused for several days, run water through it for at least 30 seconds to flush any bacteria.
• Activated carbon filters are often used in combination with other water treatments such as reverse osmosis, chlorination, and ozonation.
• Insist on activated silver impregnated carbon filters, sometimes called Chlorgon, this adds chloramine exclusion and bacteria killing ability to the basic carbon.
• With activated carbon filters, the most effective and least costly (in the long run) setup is to use at least 2 different filter cartridges. The first should be a sediment filter. The second should be the activated carbon filter. The inexpensive sediment filter can be changed more often than the costlier carbon filter.
• Countertop, undersink and whole house systems are available.
• Ceramic water filters come as a cartridge that fits a normal benchtop filter. At the core of the ceramic filter element is Diatomaceous Earth, a fossil substance, made up of tiny silicon shells left by trillions of microscopic, one celled algae called diatoms that have inhabited the waters of the earth for the last 150 million years.
• Some ceramic filters incorporate nano-silver impregnated into a porous ceramic outer shell that can trap bacteria down to as low as .22 of a micron in particle size [1/100,000 of an inch]. Laboratories consider a filtering medium with an effective pore size of .01 micron to .45 micron to be bacteriologically sterile and .45 micron to 1.0 micron to be bacteriologically safe. Regrowth of bacteria that becomes trapped either on the outside of the element or in the ceramic’s pores is controlled by the silver which, on contact with water, releases small quantities of positively charged metals ions. These ions are taken into the enzyme system of the bacteria’s cell and thereby neutralize it.
• Flow rate of this form of filter is slow but the flow rate can be renewed by brushing its outer surface under running water. As the top layer of ceramic and contaminants are brushed off and flushed away, a new layer becomes available.
• Ceramic filters can be countertop as well as whole house.