Do you need a water purifier for healthy drinking water?
Tap water that comes from the public water supplier is highly regulated and therefore generally safe to drink in Europe. But what about the tap water that comes out of your faucet? Should we worry about it.
Ageing Water Infrastructure
In Europe, clean drinking water is generally available from the tap. However, the drinking water infrastructure is ageing across many countries, resulting in potential loss of quality levels of the water supply and sanitation services, leakage and spilling of water and broken or blocked wastewater pipes that can cause discharge of untreated sewage into local waterways (link). Some segments of Europe’s 7 million+ miles of water pipes have been in operation for over 100 years. Moreover, decision and renovation cycles take 5-10 years. Investment in water infrastructure is not keeping pace with the challenges the Europe is facing, such as the growing population, urbanisation and climate change. To cope with these challenges, Europe needs to spend €45 Billion in order to modernise our infrastructure and protect health, the environment and reduce costs.
The simple truth is that we don’t know when and where the next crisis will happen. Therefore a water purifier such as a faucet tap filter is a good safety measure for healthy drinking water.
Contaminated pipes in the building
Not all drinking water issues can be tackled by municipalities and water providers: many relate to pipes, leakage and contamination in private buildings and houses. Pipes get replaced over time but for instance houses built in the 1970s will not have their pipes replaced until the 2040-2070s based on standard replacement cycles. This implies that heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and tin, as well as other contaminants continue to become a serious risk for many homes and families for the foreseeable future.
The right water purifier for the kitchen will substantially eliminate the risk of contamination from local pipes.
Public Perception of tap water
Our research shows that the public perception of tap water has worsened considerably over the past years. Over 75 million European households households primarily drink bottled water due to concerns about tap water.
This is in great contrast to reality. Annual reports from Europe’s water suppliers and audits by the regulators show that the tap water in general has a very high quality standard, at least equal to most bottled water (link). But the public perception of tap water is different.
Highly chlorinated and hard water in some areas is perceived as being of inferior quality due to its flavour. As a result, the idea persists that tap water is not to be trusted. Practice shows otherwise: Over the past 10 years the number of reported incidents with tap water is considerably less than bottled water.
Do I need a water purifier for healthy drinking water?
From a long term perspective we don’t know if it makes any difference if you filter the tap water or not. The primary reason to use a water purifier is to improve taste.
But there is another more important reason. We simply don’t know the health impact of microplastics, chlorine by-products and other recently found contaminants in the tap water like pesticides and hormones. We also don’t know where the next Flint Michigan scandal will strike. Therefore a kitchen water filter could be seen as a cheap insurance. For a low monthly cost you can make yourself and your family a far bit safer.
Which Filters are available?
Generally there are three different types of water filter on the market right now.
- tap water filters (extensions to your tap)
- water pitchers (jars with integrated filter cartridges)
- under sink filter systems (high purification units)
In these classes you can find a wide variety of brands and models but there are some main attributes which are specific to each class.
The biggest difference between the three classes of water filters is their filtering capability and their costs. In the chart above you can see that the resulting water quality differs quiet a lot, and so does the price. The cheap option to filter your water will be one of the tap or pitcher filters. Keep in mind that you do not only buy the filter housing initially, you also have to invest in regular filter changes (in average every 2-3 months).
Under-the-sink solutions like reverse osmosis systems tend to be much more expensive and complex for installation and maintenance, because they contain multiple filter stages with different change intervals. Therefore you get the purest water running out of your kitchen tap.
What do these Filters remove?
Pitcher and tap filters work almost exclusively with active carbon, which is very effective in removing chemicals. One such impurity is chlorine which, although harmless in small quantities (< 250 mg/l, as is the case with tap water almost anywhere in Europe), but often at the origin of the water’s poor taste and unpleasant smell. Others are for example heavy metals that might be found in old water pipes.
Its important to know that active carbon filters alone don’t change the value of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your water. This means all of the minerals remain in your tap water good and bad. Only with an additional ion exchange layer the hardness of your water can be reduced.
There are also chemical contaminants that active carbon doesn’t remove which can be harmful to the human body. Even though the longterm influence of things like microplastic, hormones and other organic remains of pharmaceutics is not yet documented, there is conviction in the field that these foreign matters can provoke cancer and other diseases.
Purifier which work with reverse osmosis filter almost everything out of your tap water leaving only pure H2O. That means it also filters out healthy minerals which your body needs. How large at the end is the mineral intake absorbed through food and if you really need the minerals in the water is highly discussed in the field. But without a doubt they effect the taste of the water. Some systems offer therefore a remineralisation of the water before it flows out of your tap.
If you want to know more about how water filtrations works in detail, check out our blog post about this topic.
Summary and Conclusion
If you are mainly concerned about the swimming pool like taste of your water, a tap or pitcher filter are completely sufficient as long as you remember to change your filters. On the other hand do not expect to have solved the scale problem of your coffee machine.
If you prefer a carefree water consumption for you and your family out of you kitchen tap you would have to chose a system operating with the highest standard of purification. The Osmosys water service eliminates the pain points of these systems like high upfront costs, complicated install and complex filter changes. If you are interested please find more information about our service here.