Filtering your water can significantly reduce you and your family’s exposure to a wide range of natural and synthetic contaminants that may be found in your tap water, such as disinfectant products, total dissolved solids (TDS), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT'S IN YOUR WATER?
In Australia, before water reaches the taps in our homes, varying processes of disinfection suited to the water quality in that area, are carried out by Australian water authorities to make water safe.
Disinfection is recognised as a critical barrier to any microbial contaminants in water that pose any risk to public health.
The disinfection process prevents bacteria, viruses and some protozoa from entering our drinking water and is usually used alone or as a final step in water treatment, after clarification or filtration.
The most common disinfectant chemicals used in Australia include:
- Chlorine and its derivatives, chloramine and chlorine dioxide
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Australian water authorities are held to strict guidelines when it comes to using disinfectants. Including disinfectant chemicals, up to 35 ‘consumable’ chemicals can be added to our tap water to ensure it is safe and palatable.
Are disinfectant chemicals safe?
Our drinking water is quality controlled with constant testing and monitoring, however, the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines acknowledges that the disinfectants used to make our water safe may produce by-products known as disinfection by-products (DBP).
Chlorine, the most commonly used disinfectant in the water treatment process, reacts with naturally occurring organic matter to produce DBP, mainly trihalomethanes (THMs) and chlorinated acetic acids.
Other disinfectants that produce different types of by-products include ozone, which is known to produce formaldehyde and other aldehydes.
In addition to DBP, water treatment chemicals can also leave unpleasant tastes and odours in drinking water.
The presence of DBP is also monitored in our drinking water, however the disinfection process in not compromised in order to control DBP as the possible presence of microbial contaminants in drinking water poses a greater risk to public health than the possible presence of DBP.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
Total dissolved solids (TDS) consist of inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water and their concentrations may directly affect the taste of drinking water.
These include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate, carbonate, silica, organic matter, fluoride, iron, manganese, nitrate, nitrite and phosphates.
According to Australian water authorities it is difficult to remove TDS from drinking water, however the processes of reverse osmosis, ion exchange or distillation are successful at significantly reducing them.
There is no conclusive evidence that suggests TDS concentrations have a negative effect on your health.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are rapidly evaporating chemicals or drugs that pollute water or have combined with water. VOCs include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds.
Human-made VOCs are found in a wide range of everyday products including gasoline, paint, solvents and pesticides but also encompass pharmaceuticals and the by-products of chemicals (DBP) used during the water treatment process. These VOCs typically enter our water through not being disposed of properly and eventually they make their way to the rivers and lakes that are a source of our drinking water.
The Australian water authorities state the most commonly found VOCs in Australian water supplies are DBPs. Pesticides and petroleum products are occasionally detected in source water or treated drinking water in Australia, but rarely at concentrations above health based guideline values.
How do I remove disinfectants, TDS and VOCs from my drinking water?
Using a water filter or water purification system can significantly reduce unnecessary exposure to natural and synthetic contaminants.
To reduce TDS (such as fluoride) from drinking water, a reverse osmosis water purification system is one of the most effective ways of reducing these contaminants in your home.
An efficient way to remove VOCs from drinking water is to filter it with a good quality carbon filter. A carbon filter can be used on its own or as part of a reverse osmosis system.
Not only can the processes of water filtration or purification make your drinking water safer to drink, it can also make it taste better too.
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