Water is one of the most natural and essential resources for mankind. Fortunately, for the people of Singapore, the water supply here is one of the cleanest in the world.
You could drink water from a tap without risking a bad stomach, and the national water agency PUB makes sure of this by taking water samples from the source to tap so that it’s clean throughout.
However, the benefits of filtered water are often pushed by companies that want to sell you different filtration systems. And even in a community like Singapore, water filters remain a common sight in homes and offices.
But, a new report from Talking Point says that a recent test concluded that filtered water could be dirtier than tap water. The test collected two samples of water from five households. One sample was of tap water and the other of filtered water.
Tap Water vs Filtered Water: Bacteria Levels
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The results shows the following results:
Bacterial count of under 500 in tap water taken from four of the households, which is the safe limit imposed by the Singapore Food Agency.
The bacterial count from three households had a range between 9,000 to 25,400 in the filtered water, exceeding the safe limit by a massive margin.
Household with the highest bacteria count had used a filter that was a month overdue for change.
Independent verification and certification services provider – SGS Singapore conducted the tests.
SGS regional manager, Guillaume Drillet said, “The longer you keep your filter running, the higher probability that you’ll have regrowth of bacteria. So it’s very important to follow the schedule proposed by manufacturers.”
In one household, the owner changed the filter barely a month prior to the test. And still, the bacterial count of his filtered water stood at 9,000.
Bacteria regrows very fast, which is why as soon as you have nutrients and a surface, there is the development of a biofilm.
That’s the reason Drillet says the tap water is safer since there’s control. PUB adds chlorine to the water to contain the regrowth of bacteria. But when the water passes through a filter, it may remove chlorine allowing the bacteria to start growing again.
Benefits Of Filtered Water: Is It Worth The Hype?
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Water filter maker Ruhens says that bacteria can accumulate “almost anywhere” and that it is important to ensure that filters are changed on schedule. The company also recommends using a tankless water filter with parts that can be removed and cleaned. Instead, a water storage tank increases the risk of bacterial growth.
Singapore’s water filtration industry offers everything from cloth filters worth 30 cents each to water filter pitchers that will set you back by S$100. There are also worktop systems that cost thousands of dollars and can process gallons of water every year. Most filtration systems promise to offer clean and healthy water without impurities and minerals.
However, as the test notes, removing chlorine and fluoride from water can actually be harmful to consumers.
A reverse osmosis test showed that filtered water had less fluoride at 0.1 mg/l when compared with 0.5 mg/l in the tap water. The permissible level of fluoride in Singapore water is 0.7 mg/l.
The test also found that there was no discernible change in the filtered water’s zinc level while the magnesium level increased by 1 mg/l.
Meanwhile, the calcium level dropped from 13 mg/l in the tap water to 1 mg/l after filtration.
So, it turns out that filtration actually drops the overall mineral content in tap water, instead of adding more.
Benefits Of Filtered Water: Can It Cure Cancer?
Some companies market filtered water as a magic remedy to improve gastrointestinal health, better absorption of water by the body and cure cancer. So is there any truth to this?
The report quotes Leong Lai Peng, senior lecturer in food science and technology at the University of Singapore saying, “The thing is, the acid is there to help with digestion. If you neutralise it, then it doesn’t digest as well anymore. There’s no reason why anybody would want to neutralise the acid in their stomach.”
Peng also says that claims of better water absorption by the body do not stand true. This is because water molecules do not change in size “whether they go through the filter or not.”
She elaborates that water maintains the same molecular structure whether filtered or not, so the absorption by the body will remain the same as well.
And finally, there is no evidence to support that filtered water can prevent cancer.
However, it can help immunocompromised patients and those undergoing cancer treatment. This is because it does filter out harmful bacteria and viruses. However, at no point does it claim to “cure” cancer.
Benefits Of Filtered Water: Types Of Filtration Systems
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There are largely two types of water filters available in the market. One is the ion exchange filters and the other is alkaline filters.
The ion exchange filter works as a water softener for hard water. The system essentially captures the calcium and magnesium in the hard water to release soft water in the process.
Meanwhile, alkaline filters convert water by passing an electric current through it, which removes contaminants using activated carbon.
However, the concern with this technology is that over time, the filters could allow bacteria to grow in them. The bacteria grows on the filter itself and coming into your water.
So if you are also concerned about bacteria in your water, perhaps it is time to try the good ‘ol trick of drinking boiled water for a change.