Reverse Osmosis and Removal of Minerals from Drinking Water: Myron L Meters

Posted by 17 Jun, 2013

Myron L Meters provides introductory as well as professional level material on water quality and water treatment. Did you know that Myron L Meters carries a meter specifically for testing RO systems (see below)?

Water purification systems have purified brackish water and sea water for the military, businesses and farms in many different locations on planet Earth. Reverse osmosis water purification will create clean drinkable water when used on your drinking water.

Reverse osmosis will generally remove salt, manganese, iron, fluoride, lead, and calcium (Binnie et. al., 2002). Most mineral constituents of water are physically larger than water molecules and they are trapped by the semi-permeable membrane and removed from drinking water when filtered through an RO system (AllAboutWater.org, 2004). Meanwhile, consumers are concerned about the removal of minerals from their drinking water.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) removed 90-99.99% of all the contaminants including minerals from the drinking water supply (see Figure 1). RO removes minerals because they have larger molecules than water. The subject of minerals and RO created controversy and disagreement among water and health professionals. The World Health Organization (WHO) made clarification that majority of healthy minerals are needed for human body is from food or dietary supplementary sources and not from drinking tap water. In addition, minerals found in water can be harmful to human health. The evidence is strong that calcium and magnesium are essential elements for human body (WQA, 2011). However, its a weak argument to suggest that we should make up this deficiency through water consumption (WQA, 2011). Tap water presents a variety of inorganic minerals which the human body has difficulty absorbing (Misner, 2004). Their presence is suspect in a wide array of degenerative diseases, such as hardening of the arteries, arthritis, kidney stones, gall stones, glaucoma, cataracts, hearing loss, emphysema, diabetes, and obesity. What minerals are available, especially in “hard” tap water, are poorly absorbed, or rejected by cellular tissue sites, and, if not evacuated, their presence may cause arterial obstruction, and internal damage (Dennison, 193; Muehling, 1994; Banik, 1989).

Figure 1. Reverse Osmosis Membrane (Source:DOI-BUR, 2009)

Organic Minerals vs. Inorganic Minerals
There are two types of minerals in water, organic and inorganic. Human physiology has a biological affinity for organic minerals. Most organic minerals for our body functions come from dietary plant foods (Misner, 2004). A growing plant converts the inorganic minerals from the soils to a useful organic mineral (Misner, 2004). When an organic mineral (from a plant food) enters the stomach it must attach itself to a specific protein-molecule (chelation) in order to be absorbed, then it gains access to the tissue sites where it is needed (Misner, 2004). Once a plant mineral is divested within the body, it is utilized as a coenzyme for composing body fluids, forming blood and bone cells, and the maintaining of healthy nerve transmission (Balch & Balch 1990).

Reverse Osmosis has Little Effect on Water pH
Water pH levels will automatically change when water is ingested and comes into contact with the food in your stomach (Wise, 2011). Even on an empty stomach, your stomach acid alone is already several times more acidic than RO water (pH 6-8) with a pH level of 2 (Wise, 2011). The human body regulates pH levels constantly to find balance and equilibrium (see Figure 2). Therefore under normal conditions it will always maintain a neutral 7.4 pH balance (Wise, 2011). The healthy body is very robust and it will restore homeostatic pH fairly quickly and easily (Wise 2011). Soft drinks and sports drinks typically have a pH level of 2.5, orange juice has a 3 pH and coffee has a 4 pH level and we drink these beverages all the time without problems (Wise, 2011).

Figure 2. Comparison of pH Levels (Source: Wise, 2011)

Conclusion
Water filtered or treated by reverse osmosis is generally pure, clean, and healthy. A reverse osmosis treatment system is currently the only technology that can remove most of the emerging contaminants (i.e., prescription drugs and perchlorate) including other contaminants (i.e., arsenic, cyanide, and fluoride) that are difficult to remove by other treatment methods. No more ingesting of harmful inorganic minerals means the body will no longer be stressed with trying to absorb something that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place (Wise, 2011). Consumers should not be concerned about the removal of minerals by RO system. As the WHO (2009) and WQA (2011) pointed out, the human body obtains the vast majority of minerals from food or supplements, not from drinking water.

One of the downsides to the reverse osmosis process is that it is so effective in removing particles, it will also remove minerals from your water that may be beneficial. The body needs certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, to function properly. In addition, some people believe minerals such as this actually add flavor to the water, so that will be missing if you filter the water. Some find a certain acidic taste to water that has been purified by reverse osmosis. A reverse osmosis system also wastes a certain amount of water. For every gallon of purified water, three or four gallons have to be processed. If water is scarce or expensive in your area, this is a strong consideration.

The Myron L RO-1 was developed years ago specifically for Culligan, and is designed for testing RO systems.

RO-1 Meter

The choice of professionals for years, this compact instrument has been designed specifically to demonstrate and test Point of Use (POU) reverse osmosis or distillation systems. By measuring electrical conductivity, it will quickly determine the parts per million/Total Dissolved Solids (ppm/TDS) of any drinking water.

With a single ‘before and after’ test, this handy device effectively demonstrates how your RO or distillation system eliminates harmful dissolved solids. It will also service test systems, including membrane evaluation programs. Find out more about the RO-1 meter HERE.

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