Do you know how many disease risks are hidden in tap water? Do you know how the sterilization function of water filters works?
The Roman Aqueducts: Engineering Marvels and the Hidden Dangers of Lead Plumbing
In the year 310 BC, a remarkable feat was achieved by the Roman Empire when they ingeniously constructed the very first underground aqueduct. This groundbreaking creation served the purpose of providing the people of Rome with the essential necessities of life, such as drinking water and bathing facilities.
Fast forward to 114 BC, when the Roman Empire proudly unveiled their latest triumph, the magnificent Marcia Aqueduct. This colossal structure stretched an astonishing distance of 86.6 kilometers above the ground. Little did they know, this architectural masterpiece would leave an indelible mark on future constructions to come.
To ensure a reliable water supply for the bustling populace of Rome, the Roman Empire embarked on an ambitious endeavor, constructing a grand total of 11 aqueducts. These masterpieces were strategically positioned outside the city limits, crafted meticulously using a blend of sturdy brick and resilient stone. However, within the heart of the urban landscape, a different system prevailed.
Lead pipes and clay pipes took center stage within Rome’s streets. The ingenious Romans relied on this intricate network to deliver water directly to their homes. It seemed like a convenient solution, but unfortunately, it came with a hidden danger, as people unknowingly exposed themselves to lead, not only through the water they drank and cooked with, but also through their everyday use of lead utensils.
Centuries passed, and the consequences of this long-term exposure began to emerge. Poisoning silently seeped through subsequent generations of Western Romans. While historians debate the exact role of lead poisoning in the ultimate decline of the Western Roman Empire, it is widely believed to have played a part among the many factors that contributed to its downfall.
The Complexity and Dangers of Tap Water
Two thousand years ago, natural water was pristine and uncontaminated. However, due to the limited scientific knowledge and testing methods available at that time, water became polluted. In the present day, despite our extensive scientific knowledge and advanced testing methods, pure and unpolluted water is scarce.
To safeguard public health, water authorities have turned to chlorine disinfection as a crucial step in treating tap water. Alongside this, ingenious water filters have emerged as indispensable tools, providing us with the vital elixir we need to survive each day.
The journey of tap water through the treatment process is no simple feat. It involves a series of interconnected stages: intake, conveyance, purification, and distribution. Each step serves a specific purpose, employing techniques like mixing, coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection to rid the water of impurities and harmful pathogens. Yet, even with all these precautions, concerns linger regarding the cleanliness of tap water, particularly as it flows through aging or deteriorating pipelines.
It’s worth noting that tap water may harbor a multitude of potential health risks, encompassing various factors:
1. Chemical Substances: These include disinfection byproducts, pesticides, herbicides, and pharmaceutical residues, some known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which can infiltrate the water supply through agricultural runoff, industrial waste, or improper medication disposal. Consistently consuming water that is contaminated over an extended period can result in disturbances in your hormonal equilibrium, complications in reproductive health, and a heightened vulnerability to specific types of cancer.
2. Bacteria and Microorganisms: Pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter can cause gastrointestinal illnesses. Waterborne parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia pose a particular threat, especially to individuals with weakened immune systems. Legionnaires’ disease, a condition that emerged four decades ago in the United States, is caused by the presence of Legionella bacteria in older water systems. This particular ailment poses a grave threat to the respiratory system, rendering it the most fatal waterborne pathogen known to date.
3. Heavy Metals: Excessive amounts of lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium can infiltrate tap water through natural sources or human activities such as industrial pollution or outdated pipeline systems. Heavy metals can have severe impacts, particularly on vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women. Drinking water contaminated with heavy metals over an extended period can cause various problems during growth, affect the nervous system, harm organs, and raise the chances of developing heart conditions. A well-known example is the lead poisoning during the Western Roman Empire era, which significantly reduced the lifespan of young nobles, caused infertility, and resulted in offspring with intellectual disabilities.
4. Microplastics: Refers to tiny plastic particles measuring less than 5 millimeters, primarily originating from plastic waste, microbeads in personal care products, and synthetic fibers and so on. In December 2020, an Italian study in the field of gynecology published the first detection of microplastics in the placentas of four pregnant and postpartum women. Microplastics were found on both sides of the placenta and in the amniotic membrane. The environmental pollution caused by microplastics is evident, the potential harm may cause to humans is also apparent.
The proportion of those pollutants in tap water depending on geographical location, water sources, treatment methods by water management unit, and the age of the water system.
Sterilization Filters’ Working Methods
The smallest known virus in the earth is about 17 nanometers, and the smallest bacteria is about 0.3 microns. To eliminate viruses and bacteria from water, two common methods are used: filtering and destroying their DNA or RNA molecular structure. Let’s see how a water filter works.
Hollow Fiber Membrane
Also known as ultrafiltration (UF) membrane, the hollow fiber membrane is composed of numerous tiny hollow fiber strands, which form the presence of ultramicroscopic pores measuring between 0.01 to 0.1 micrometers on the tube walls. The hollow fiber membrane was developed as a medical-grade material for use in blood dialysis treatment for kidney disease patients. However, due to its ability to effectively separate toxins, it is now use for filter and produce drinking water that feet safety standards. The hollow fiber membrane filtering principle relies on forcing water molecules through the tube walls, effectively separating large molecular substances, particles, bacteria, algae, and impurities through water pressure. The aperture of the hollow fiber membrane is slightly larger than that of reverse osmosis membranes, allowing beneficial mineral elements to be retained in the water.
UV Ultraviolet Rays
The disinfection ability of UV radiation is widely recognized. Water purifiers typically employ UVC germicidal light waves ranging from 200nm to 280nm in wavelength. UVC light can disrupt the DNA or RNA molecular structures of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses, rendering them inactive and unable to reproduce, thus achieving a disinfection effect. However, UVC light does not have a filtration effect on harmful substances such as heavy metals, chlorine, and environmental hormones. Therefore, it is usually combined with activated carbon filters or other methods to first filter out pollutants before proceeding with the sterilization process, ensuring comprehensive purification of the water.
Silver ions are inorganic natural mineral elements and the most active among all metal ions. They are cations produced when silver atoms lose one or more electrons through hydration, exerting an oxidizing effect. The principle of bactericidal action is that the cationic characteristics of silver ions adsorb onto microbial cells with negative charges, damaging the bacterial cell membrane and leading to bacterial death. The powerful oxidation and sterilization effect of silver ions can purify bacteria and microorganisms in 1 liter of water with only 1/500 billion of a gram. Silver ion filters are often combined with activated carbon filters within the same filter cartridge.
Sterilization Small Molecule Water Filter Tube
In recent years, small molecule water has emerged as a popular trend in water purifiers. It involves the use of electromagnetic waves or infrared radiation to generate small molecule water within the purifier. While most discussions focus on the metabolic health benefits it offers, the cleaning and sterilizing effects are often overlooked. A new and innovative solution is the sterilization small molecule water filter tube, which differs from the traditional methods of using electromagnetic waves or infrared radiation. This filter tube is equipped with three sections of special metal rods of varying lengths, rotational angles, and groove depths, along with specialized minerals.
The sterilization principle of this filter tube involves the natural transformation created bypass the three sections of metal spiral rods and the specialized minerals when the tap water enters the tube. The original water clusters are broken apart and then reassembled into nanoscale small molecule water clusters. In the process of deconstructing and reconstructing water into nano-scale small molecules, pathogens present in tap water are decomposed and sterilized using magnetic force. This process aims to achieve sterilization. The small molecule water that flows out of the filter tube is clean and sterile.
Cost Analysis and Flexibility
All filters have a lifespan, and the cost of replacement should be taken into consideration. Apart from saving money, it is important to consider the environmental cost. The four types of sterilization tools mentioned above are each specialized in their functions and are related to their lifespan when considering costs. Hollow fiber membranes and silver ion filter cartridges have a lifespan ranging from several months to one year, with costs ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars. UV sterilization lamps vary in price depending on wattage, ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars, with a lifespan of approximately one to two years. The internal structure of the sterilizing small molecule water filter tube is made of special ore and spiral-shaped metal rods cut with precision. It is priced similarly to high-wattage UV sterilization lamps, but its lifespan can reach up to 6 years, or even 10 years in areas with soft water. In terms of cost and lifespan ratio, it is the most cost-effective among the four sterilization filter tools.
All filter cartridges need to be integrated with the entire water purifier system and installed in fixed locations. UV filters also require a power source. The small molecule water filter tube is not constrained by these requirements and does not need a power source. It can be installed independently at household water outlets like shower facilities or sinks, providing clean and sterilized water even when water purification systems are not required but desired. It can serve as a transitional tube connecting the water supply pipe and the water purifier, or it can be installed at the junction between the water supply pipe and irrigation system, providing clean water for fruit orchards or livestock on farms. For those with a wide range of water needs, the flexibility of the Sterilizing Small Molecule Water Filter Tube greatly increases its functionality compared to other sterile filtration tools.
The sterilizing small molecule water filter tube also allows people to think beyond the norm. For travelers, especially those who visit developing or underdeveloped countries, it can be a convenient health device because it can be directly installed on household water pipes or used with adapters. This ensures access to sterilized clean drinking water anytime, anywhere, making it easier for travelers to protect their health and avoid pathogen-related issues during their journeys.
We have understood the health hazards lurking in tap water and gained basic knowledge of the disinfection and sterilization principles of water filters, as explained above. We all know the crucial role that clean water plays in keeping our bodies functioning smoothly like hydration, digestion, circulation, detoxification, but we sometimes overlook the potential health hazards lurking in the water we use day in and day out. For example, Legionnaires’ disease caused by Legionella bacteria in water supply systems can survive in 20-45℃ warm water environments and spread through water mist generated during showers, causing illness when inhaled. The mortality rate associated with this affliction can be staggering, soaring to a distressing 40 to 80% among those with compromised immune systems. However, with proper treatment, the average fatality rate dwindles to a comparatively modest 5 to 10%, though individual immune statuses can push it as high as 30%.
In light of these grim statistics, the European Parliament sprang into action. They introduced amendments to the European Union Drinking Water Directive back in December 2020.The latest regulations include two significant changes regarding the introduction of microbiological parameters: Legionella testing systems and enhanced detection of intestinal enterococci. In September 2021, European Parliament President David Sassoli had to be hospitalized due to Legionnaires’ disease caused by Legionella bacteria.
Undoubtedly, the quality of the water we consume plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being and vitality. However, by making prudent investments in reliable water filters, we can confidently safeguard our access to pristine, health-giving drinking water, thus shielding ourselves and our loved ones from potential harm.