Reverse osmosis: harm or benefit?

On the pros and cons of reverse osmosis technology in the home, there are many diverse opinions, some of them represent some kind of scientifically sound explanations, many points originate somewhere in the depths of the newspaper “Grandma. Today we will try to understand why we need water filters in general, whether there are benefits and harms of reverse osmosis and a little bit about how such filters work.

Reverse osmosis technology has been used since the 1970s to purify and desalinate drinking water, to produce high-purity water for medicine, industry and other uses. It was later applied to the treatment of drinking water in food plants and to desalination of seawater in regions where surface and groundwater resources are scarce. Today reverse osmosis has become the most common technology of water treatment in all areas, including the production of bottled water.

What’s wrong with our water?

It’s no secret that the quality of tap water in Ukraine leaves much to be desired, and it can be called only formally “drinking”. There are a number of threats which become more and more urgent every year in connection with degradation of water sources and deterioration of pipelines which were built mainly in the 60-s of the last century and exhausted their statutory resource about ten years ago.

The main consequence of these factors are periodic outbreaks of infectious diseases, which are transmitted with water. For example, Hepatitis A, which more and more often appears in Ukrainian news reports, where the source of infection is recognized to be water. The cause of these outbreaks is either insufficient chlorination, when chlorine, which is excessively dosed at the water utility, is spent on oxidation of fouling in the pipes, or emergency situations. It is not a surprise to anyone that drinking water accidentally mixes with sewage as the result of a ruptured pipeline. This question is very relevant for actively built districts of Kyiv region with autonomous wells.

The second global problem characteristic of water from surface sources is the organochlorine content. They have long been recognized as carcinogens and their concentration is growing in parallel with the active overgrowth of water bodies (look at the Dnieper in Kiev) and pipelines, in which in the most unfavorable situations live colonies of microorganisms a centimeter thick.

Chlorine is by far the most effective and used worldwide, despite popular speculation that only third world countries use it. The only way to solve the organochlorine problem is to replace all pipe networks, a complete reconstruction of sewage treatment plants, and a set of measures to improve the water in the Dnieper. These are extremely expensive solutions which, if actively implemented, will bear fruit in at least ten years.

A third problem is specific pollutants, such as aluminum, which is introduced into the water during the treatment of turbid river water. Heavy metals and organic substances are typical for water of industrial regions. For ground water, both centralized and decentralized sources, iron and manganese are a serious problem.

You can learn more about the quality of tap water in your town on the water quality, where we keep systematic statistics of water indicators obtained in our laboratory, and about features of water in individual regions there are many publications in this section of the blog.

Reverse osmosis principle

Reverse osmosis is a physical process in which water at a certain pressure passes through a semi-permeable membrane from a more concentrated to a less concentrated solution, that is, in the opposite direction to osmosis.

In this process, the membrane allows water to pass through, but does not allow most of the substances dissolved in it. The size of removed particles is 0.001-0.0001 microns, thanks to which 99.8% of impurities, including salts of hardness and heavy metals, nitrates, pesticides and even the smallest particles of viruses can be removed from water.

For example, the average size of common pathogens and water pollutants:

  • E. coli bacteria (E.coli) – 0.3 reaches 1 µm in diameter and 1-6 µm in length;
  • Staphylococcus bacteria (Staphylococcus) – 0.5 – 1 µm in diameter;
  • Flu virus (Influenza A virus) – 0.1 micron;
  • Hepatitis A virus (HAV) – 0.03 micron.

The reverse osmosis membrane principle is shown in the figure below.

Membrane elements of household and industrial water filters are made of polymer fiber, which is chemically inert safe food material.

Is reverse osmosis harmful??

Below we will give the main arguments of opponents of reverse osmosis in domestic water treatment and try to understand their origins.

Does reverse osmosis really remove all essential minerals from water and harm humans?

As we read above, the membrane element does remove most mineral impurities from the water. This applies to both the real and potential toxicants listed above, as well as minerals that may be beneficial to humans.

HOW does a REVERSE OSMOSIS Drinking Water System WORK?

One of the platitudes in medicine is that the potential benefits of a treatment must be greater than the harms. The list of vital chemical elements that may be in the water include primarily calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium. None of these components is rare, their content in food is high enough and with a complete diet completely, and sometimes with excess, as happens with sodium from kitchen salt, is replenished from other foods. But the typical unavoidable impurities in tap water, i.e. chlororganics and heavy metals, are not at all useful. Even when the concentration of perfectly safe calcium and magnesium exceeds the allowable norms, which is often the case with well water, less often with tap water, useful minerals become dangerous in the long term and can lead to an accumulation of salt crystals in the kidney tissue.

The World Health Organization allows the use of demineralized water as drinking water. Moreover, the modern technology of mineralization allows to obtain water, saturated with extremely useful minerals.

If we are talking in detail about hydrogen, the indicators of water after them are shown in the table below.

Sodium + Potassium, mg/l

P’URE Balance / Sense

Standart / Absolute with mineralization

Can purified water leach nutrients from the body?

Once people thought the Earth was flat, then they treated coughs with cocaine, a little later they decided that desalinated water could flush out useful salts from the body. In reality, salt metabolism in the body is a very complex phenomenon, some of the minerals are incorporated into protein structures, some are in the blood in order to keep the cells in shape thanks to the osmotic effect, etc. The water goes through a myriad of physiological barriers and only removes the salts that the body needs to excrete. On the contrary, it often happens that our body systems are unable to eliminate all the salts, either because of lack of water, or excessive consumption of certain foods, or because of some irregularities in the functioning of organs and systems. Then edema, hypertensive crises and other problems happen. Water purified by reverse osmosis, unlike many mineral waters does not carry additional load on the excretory system.

Can osmosis purified water ruin your teeth?

This fact also has no scientific basis. If one relies on the above fact about water washing something out of the body, one could assume something like this, but it is not possible.

A second more logical fact that is given as an argument is the destruction of enamel due to the low acidity of osmotic water. First of all it concerns filters without mineralization, and secondly even in these filters the pH of water usually reaches at least 6 (neutral is 7) and the pH of most foods: fruits, vegetables, cooked meat is almost always below 6 units.

Reverse osmosis – dead water?

Water is an inorganic substance; all salts dissolved in it, which are safe for humans, are also. There is no logic in comparing tap water with a huge amount of potentially toxic components and well and spring water with systemic exceedances of nitrates and microorganisms. As for bottled water, both store-bought and delivered, it too is most often obtained by reverse osmosis.

The taste of reverse osmosis water

One of the arguments that are really worth dwelling on are the organoleptic qualities of demineralized water. Filter water without a mineralizer tastes fresh to many people, or “flat” as baristas say of coffee. But the experience of our customers shows that the habit develops after just one or two weeks.

As for mineralization filters, water often becomes tasty even after a simple mineralizer with calcite. And people compare the water of filters P’URE Balance and Aquacalcium with “Morshinskaya” by its organoleptic qualities, which is not strange, as it has a similar mineral composition.

If you are afraid that the taste of water will strongly affect your comfort, we recommend to go to off-line stores and try water from filters.

It seems to answer the question of whether the water is useful after reverse osmosis, we have now left to consider the other issues.

benefits harms reverse

Does Reverse Osmosis Have Disadvantages?

Like any other household device, the water filter will have a number of disadvantages. Now we will briefly review them and describe methods of minimizing.

1. Osmosis discharges a lot of water

Indeed, such a problem exists, per liter of pure water, 1-7 liters of tap water into the drain. It depends on the configuration of the filter, the pressure in the pipeline, the operating time of the membrane element since the last change, the quality of the original water, etc.

benefits harms reverse

This disadvantage of reverse osmosis systems is due to the fact that at low water pressure, which we can provide in domestic conditions, the water is less effectively squeezed through the membrane. You can improve the situation by installing a booster pump directly on the filter, timely replacement of the cartridges, as well as the choice of environmentally friendly technological solutions, such as the system P’URE Balance, which drains into the sewer significantly less.

2. Expensive equipment and service

The simplest model of reverse osmosis Standard without mineralizer will cost you about 3000 hryvnia, and cartridges to replace within a year for about another 1.5 thousand hryvnia.

In fact, the actual calculation showed that the cost of water from the filter for a family of four people, taking into account the consumption of 3 liters per day for each, taking into account the price of the filter, cartridges and water tariff is 81 kopecks, while the water from the points of spill that need to bring, costs 1-2 UAH, and with delivery – to 6 UAH / l.

As for maintenance work, the installation of cartridge replacement is within the power even of a teenager.

reverse osmosis

3. Takes up a lot of space under the sink.

In the image below, we show the location of the filter in a standard cabinet, if necessary, the tank can be installed in another place.

We seem to have answered all the questions about reverse osmosis filters that our customers often have. If you still have unresolved dilemmas, we’ll be happy to provide answers in the comments.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any harm to reverse osmosis?

There are many questions about the benefits and harms of reverse osmosis filters. In this text we will give answers to the most common ones:

  • Does reverse osmosis water leach minerals from the human body?
  • Can it ruin teeth??
  • What is the taste of water from osmosis?

And also consider the practical aspects of the filter.

What is reverse osmosis??

Reverse osmosis is a membrane process that purifies water from all types of contaminants, including viruses, heavy metals and organochlorines. 50 years ago it was used to produce water for arctic stations and long distance ships. Today this filter can be installed in every apartment. What is reverse osmosis and how it works read this article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top