Water purification is incredibly important, especially as certain parts of the world undergo droughts and other water-related crises. Tainted water, of course, can be toxic to drink, whether immediately or over an extended period of time. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is proof of the longstanding consequences a lack of clean water can have for individuals and communities alike. Another issue to consider as it pertains to water, of course, is the potential contamination people suffer when bathing or showering with tainted water, or even hard water. Hard water is not necessarily toxic, as it is largely full of minerals. But it can have a negative effect on the skin if people are in constant contact with hard water. For that matter, there is the issue of hard water producing unhealthy vapors that needs to be considered. Water purification can be conducted on a large scale, as seen in the filters used on residential properties; or it can be done on a smaller scale, as seen with the portable water filtration systems used by campers. With that being said, it’s important that you know what your options are, and the limitations of water purification systems are today. Let’s look into them!
1. Ceramic Water Filters
The great thing about ceramic water filters is that a lot of them are not only effective but also attractive. Many of them actually have a vintage look about them, which no wonder as they date back to the late nineteenth century. In fact, ceramic water filters were initially created in response to the outcry about contaminated drinking water in Great Britain. However, they are still produced to this day; some are made by the Royal Doulton Company, which made ceramic filters back in the 1880s but still see value in them now. The holes in ceramic filters filter water through while holding back dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants. This makes ceramic filters attractive and practical at once. More recent ceramic filters actually have silver coatings, which further improve the filters by making them kill bacteria. They still remain inexpensive to make as well. It’s no wonder, then, that ceramic filters are being given to parts of the developing world, where they can best serve people. These filters are portable, but they do work somewhat slowly. So why they might not be the right options for people who need to have a lot of water filtered quickly, they do work for those who want an appealing filter that purifies drinking water.
2. Herbal Defluordiation
Fluoride is widely accepted by some, but are controversial among others. A small amount of fluoride is added to American water systems as a way to prevent tooth decay, but in other countries, there is already an excessive amount of fluoride. Take India as an example; there is already so much naturally-occurring fluoride in the water that they’ve actually become dangerous to people’s health. Too much fluoride can result in stiff joints, stained teeth, and in extreme cases even kidney failure. In the 2010s, a possible solution was proposed in the form of herbal defluoridation, which could quite possibly give way to more herbal purification practices in the future. Obviously, this is not meant to purify the water on a broad scale, but rather ride the water of fluoride. The filter system essentially removed the fluoride by using a medicinal herb, Tridax procumbens, to absorb the fluoride out of the water. When the water is about 27 degrees Celsius, the herb draws out the fluoride ions. Essentially, it is an inexpensive way of removing fluoride from the water and is furthermore quite natural. Ion-based technology has been used in water purification systems for a long time; in fact, ion exchanged technology has been used in commercial water purification systems since 1915. But it can also be used in American households that would prefer their water without fluoride. This proves that not all water filtration systems need to be high-tech!
Let’s go from something more natural and low-tech to a system that is more high-tech. Nanotechnology is basically the engineering of tiny objects, and it could someday be the future of water purification — perhaps sooner than we think. Carbon nanotubes and alumina fibers have been used to create tiny water filters, and if harnessed through the power of nanotechnology could target bacteria, sediment, and even arsenic. Nanotechnology water filters wouldn’t require as much water pressure as conventional water filters, and they’re therefore much more efficient. They have a flow rate that is similar to and sometimes even faster than conventional water filters, and could potentially be used to desalinate seawater. Nanotechnology essentially allows us to create sheets that are full of tiny holes, which could therefore more efficiently filter out saltwater and other types of particles.
4. Bacteria That Eat Toxins
We think of bacteria, often, in bad terms. And many types of bacteria are indeed harmful, but many still are very beneficial. It could be possible that toxin-eating bacteria would be the best way to purify water that has been affected by microcystins, tiny toxins produced by algae that are not only easy to accidentally ingest but quite potent. These toxins can actually attack the liver. Researchers at Scotland’s Robert Gordon University have identified 10 types of bacteria that eat and break down these toxins. Ultimately, being able to use these types of toxins will allow us to purify the water of these toxins in a way that is natural and not at all harmful.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of homes in the United States that are currently without water filter systems. While 84% of homes in the United States have some kind of air conditioning, not all homes have clean, drinkable water. Though there are commercially made water filters available, everyone wants a water filter that is right for their specific needs. Fortunately, you can live a green life, depending on natural resources, and use water filters. Water filtration technology is advancing as we speak. Just watch out for news about its advancements!