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Naturally Pure FAQ

Water is absolutely vital to our bodies. Just like the surface of the Earth, our bodies are mostly made up of water. The average adult contains 40 to 50 quarts of water! The water in your body must be renewed every 10- 15 days. With the intake of foods such as fruits and vegetables, you are receiving water, but you still must drink at least 6 glasses of water daily to enable your body to function properly - water is the base for all bodily functions —


The EPA released to the news media Dec.14, 1988 information that stated there is some kind of toxic substance in our ground water no matter where we live in the US! We have all heard some reference to problems resident in our drinking water in past decades. Even materials added to our drinking water to "protect" us (such as chlorine) are linked to certain cancers, and can form toxic compounds (THM's) which adversely affect us. The old adage "If you want something done, do it yourself" applies to our drinking water also. The most sensible solution to pollution is a point of use water purification device. Point of use refers to the tap, which is the location from which we draw our water. The tap is the end of the road for water which is consumed by ourself, or our family. There are no more pipes or conduits which can leach elements into our drinking water beyond this point. To help us make the best choice for a water purification system which will suit our needs, let's summarize the problems we are faced with.

BIOLOGICAL IMPURITIES: Bacteria, Virus, and Parasites — Years ago, waterborne diseases accounted for millions of deaths. Even today in underdeveloped countries, an estimated 25,000 people will die daily from waterborne disease. Effects of waterborne microorganisms can be immediate and devastating. Therefore, microorganisms are the first and most important consideration in making water acceptable for human consumption. Generally speaking, modern municipal supplies are relatively free from harmful organisms because of routine disinfection with chlorine or chloramines and frequent sampling. This does not mean municipal water is free of all bacteria. Those of us with private wells and small rural water systems have reason to be more concerned about the possibility of microorganism contamination from septic tanks, animal wastes, and other problems. There is a little community in California, where 4,000,000 gallons of urine hits the ground daily from dairy cows! Authorities say that at least 4000 cases of waterborne diseases are reported every year in the U.S. They also estimate that much of the temporary ills and everyday gastrointestinal disorders that go routinely unreported can be attributed to organisms found in our water supplies.

INORGANIC IMPURITIES: Dirt and Sediment or Turbidity — Most waters contain some suspended particles which may consist of fine sand, clay, soil, and precipitated salts. Turbidity is unpleasant to look at, can be a source of food and lodging for bacteria, and can interfere with effective disinfection. Total Dissolved Solids -- These substances are dissolved rock and other compounds from the earth. The entire list of them could fill this page. The presence and amount of total dissolved solids in water represents a point of controversy among those who promote water treatment products. Here are some facts about the consequences of higher levels of TDS in water:

1. High TDS results in undesirable taste which could be salty, bitter, or metallic.
2. High TDS water is less thirst quenching.
3. Some of the individual mineral salts that make up TDS pose a variety of health hazards. The most problematic are Nitrates, Sodium, Sulfates, Barium, Copper, and Fluoride.
4. The EPA Secondary Regulations advise a maximum level of 500mg/liter (500 parts per million-ppm) for TDS. Numerous water supplies exceed this level. When TDS levels exceed 1000mg/L it is generally considered unfit for human consumption.
5. High TDS interferes with the taste of foods and beverages, and makes them less desirable to consume.
6. High TDS make ice cubes cloudy, softer, and faster melting.
7. Minerals exist in water mostly as INORGANIC salts. In contrast, minerals having passed through a living system are known as ORGANIC minerals. They are combined with proteins and sugars. According to many nutritionists minerals are much easier to assimilate when they come from foods. Can you imagine going out to your garden for a cup of dirt to eat rather than a nice carrot; or drinking a whole bathtub of water for LESS calcium than that in an 8 ounce glass of milk? 8. Water with higher TDS is considered by some health advocates to have a poorer cleansing effect in the body than water with a low level of TDS. This is because water with low dissolved solids has a greater capacity of absorption than water with higher solids.

Toxic Metals or Heavy Metals: Among the greatest threats to health are the presence of high levels of toxic metals in drinking water — Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, and Silver. Maximum limits for each are established by the EPA Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Other metals such as Chromium and Selenium, while essential trace elements in our diets, have limits imposed upon them when in water because the form in which they exist may pose a health hazard. Toxic metals are associated with nerve damage, birth defects, mental retardation, certain cancers, and increased susceptibility to disease.

: Asbestos exists as microscopic suspended mineral fibers in water. Its primary source is asbestos-cement pipe which was commonly used after World War II for city water supplies. It has been estimated that some 200,000 miles of this pipe is presently in use to transport our drinking water. Because these pipes are wearing, the deadly substance of asbestos is showing up with increasing frequency in drinking water. It has been linked with gastrointestinal cancer.

Even though trace amounts of radioactive elements can be found in almost all drinking water, levels that pose serious health hazards are fairly rare — for now. Radioactive wastes leach from mining operations into groundwater supplies. The greatest threat is posed by nuclear accidents, nuclear processing plants, and radioactive waste disposal sites. As containers containing these wastes deteriorate with time, the risk of contaminating our aquafiers grows into a toxic time bomb.

ORGANIC IMPURITIES: Tastes and Odors — If your water has a disagreeable taste or odor, chances are it is due to one or more of many organic substances ranging from decaying vegetation to algae; hydrocarbons to phenols. It could also be TDS and a host of other items.

Pesticides and Herbicides: The increasing use of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture shows up in the water we drink. Rain and irrigation carry these deadly chemicals down into the groundwater as well as into surface waters — There are more than 100,000,000 people in the US who depend upon groundwater for sources whole or in part of their drinking water. As our reliance upon groundwater is escalating, so is its contamination. Our own household use of herbicide and pesticide substances also contributes to actual contamination. These chemicals can cause circulatory, respiratory and nerve disorders.

Toxic Organic Chemicals: The most pressing and widespread water contamination problem is a result of the organic chemicals created by industry. The American Chemical Society lists 4,039,907 distinct chemical compounds as of late 1977! This list only is comprised of chemicals reported since 1965. The list can grow by some 6,000 chemicals per week! 70,000 chemicals may still be in production in the US. As of December, 1978, 50 chemicals were being produced in greater quantities than 1,300,000,000 pounds per year in the US. 115,000 establishments are involved in the production and distribution of chemicals, with the business being worth $113,000,000,000 per year. According to the EPA, there are 77,000,000,000 pounds of hazardous waste being generated each year in the US. 90 percent of this is not disposed of properly. This would equal 19,192 pounds of hazardous waste disposed each year on every square mile of land and water surface in the US including Alaska and Hawaii!! There are 181,000 manmade lagoons at industrial and municipal sites in the US. At least 75 percent of these are unlined. Even the lined ones will leak according to the EPA. Some of these are within 1 mile of wells or water supplies. There is still a lack of information on the location of these sites, their condition, and containments.

THIS IS A HORROR STORY OF THE MILLENNIUM. Chemicals end up in our drinking water from hundreds of different sources. There are hundreds of publications each year highlighting this problem. The effects of chronic long term exposure to these toxic organics, even in minute amounts, are extremely difficult to detect. Contaminated drinking water may look and taste perfectly normal. The users symptoms might include recurring headache, rash, or fatigue—all of which are hard to diagnose as being water related. The more serious consequences of drinking tainted water are higher cancer rates, birth defects, growth abnormalities, infertility, and nerve and organ damage. Some of these disorders may go unnoticed for decades!! Just how toxic these chemicals are may be illustrated by looking at two examples: TCE is a widely used chemical which routinely shows up in water supplies. Just two glassfuls of TCE can contaminate 27,000,000 gallons of drinking water! One pound of the pesticide, Endrin can contaminate 5,000,000,000 gallons of water.

CHLORINE: Trihalomethanes (THM's) are formed when chlorine, used to disinfect water supplies, interacts with natural organic materials (e.g. by-products of decayed vegetation, algae, etc.). This creates toxic organic chemicals such as chloroform, and Bromodichloromethane. A further word about chlorine: Scientists at Colombia University found that women who drank chlorinated water ran a 44% greater risk of dying of cancer of the gastrointestinal or urinary tract than did women who drank non-chlorinated water! Chlorinated water has also been linked to high blood pressure and anemia. Anemia is caused by the deleterious effect of chlorine on red blood cells.


SORTING THROUGH THE SOLUTIONS. Now that we have established the need for something to guarantee our water quality, what are the alternatives? There are so many water systems being sold that it seems confusing. It will be advantageous to identify the various processes which are available to us and see what each one's strengths and weaknesses are.

CENTRALIZED WATER TREATMENT: Building hi-tech water treatment plants to remove impurities aren't the solution: Only 2% of water supplied to our homes is used for human consumption. A large percentage of our population has small rural or private well supplies for water. These would not be benefited by large municipal treatment centers. It isn't logical to build costly plants to treat the water we use for our lawns, to flush our toilets, and to fight fires. It's evident that it isn't practical to upgrade our treatment plants to treat all the water they process. Even if the plants were upgraded, the water has to be piped to our homes. It has the opportunity to pick up materials from the pipes before coming out of the tap.

BOILING WATER: Boiling reduces the threat of living organisms. It serves as a method for killing bacteria during emergencies, it is not recommended for long term use. Very little is removed by boiling. You may kill germs, but you still have dirt, sediment, dissolved solids, bad taste, and odor remaining — there may also be many chemical contaminants.

BOTTLED WATER: Is the solution for safe drinking water provided by paying $.80 to $2.00 per gallon to drink water prepared and bottled by someone else? This cost ineffective price reflects the costs of bottling, storage, trucking, fuel expenses, wages, insurances, etc. If you have a point of use water system, you eliminate all of these middleman costs, and enjoy purified water for pennies per gallon.

POINT OF USE WATER TREATMENT: The most efficient and cost effective approach to the problem of water purity is to treat JUST the water you will consume for drinking and cooking WHERE you will consume it. Devices for point of use water treatment are available in a wide variety of sizes, designs, and have varied claims as to their ability to remove impurities.

MECHANICAL FILTRATION: One of the most widely used water quality improvement methods is mechanical filtration which acts much like a fine strainer. Particles of suspended dirt, sand, rust and scale (i.e. turbidity) are trapped and retained, greatly improving the clarity and appeal of water. When enough of this particulate matter has accumulated on or within the filter element, it is usually discarded. This type of filter is usually considered a pre-filter.

ACTIVATED CARBON ADSORPTION: Carbon adsorption is probably the most widely sold method for home water treatment. This is because of its ability to improve water by removing many disagreeable tastes and odors including objectionable chlorine. Activated carbon (AC) is processed carbon. In this form it will remove far more contamination from water than will nonactivated carbon. AC is made from a variety of carbon based materials such as coal, petroleum, nut shells, and fruit pits. These are heated to high temperatures with steam in the absence of oxygen (the activation process) leaving millions of microscopic pores and great surface area. One pound of activated carbon provides from 60 to 150 acres of surface area. The pores trap microscopic particles and large organic molecules while the activated surface areas cling on to or adsorb the smaller organic molecules While AC theoretically has the ability to remove or reduce numerous organic chemicals like pesticides, THM's, TCE, PCB, etc., its actual effectiveness is highly DEPENDENT on the following factors:

1. The type of carbon and the amount used.
2. The design of the filter and how SLOWLY water flows through it (Contact Time).
3. How long the carbon has been in service and how many gallons it has treated.
4. The kinds of impurities it has removed.
5. The water conditions (e.g. turbidity, temperature, etc.) One problem with carbon filters is the growth of bacteria. At first, when the carbon is fresh, practically all organic impurities and even some bacteria are removed. Once organic impurities accumulate they can become food for the growth of more bacteria. These can then multiply within the filter to great numbers. While this bacteria may not be disease causing, their high concentration is considered by some to present a health hazard. It is often advised that after periods of non-use (such as overnight) a decent quantity of water be flushed through the carbon filter to minimize the accumulation of bacteria.

OLIGODYNAMIC, SILVER IMPREGNATED OR BACTERIOSTATIC CARBON: A manufacturer who adds (impregnates) silver compounds to the surface of the carbon granules is trying to inhibit bacteria growth within the carbon bed. However, EPA sponsored testing of such filters have shown that they are "neither effective nor dependable in meeting these claims" [EPA Report #EPA/600D-86/232 October l986]. Some manufacturers have also made misleading claims that their silver impregnated filters will eliminate bacterial contamination from virtually any water source. The low concentration of silver found in these filters is not capable of destroying influent waterborne bacteria or providing protection from contaminated water under normal flow conditions. Pyrogens can induce fever (from dead bacteria). Bacteria destroyed in silver impregnated carbon can still end up in your drinking water. Because silver is also toxic to humans, such filters are regulated by the EPA under the Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and must be registered and issued a registration number. This registration doesn't imply any EPA approval of the unit or of its effectiveness. It does certify that the carbon will not release more than 50 parts per billion of silver - the maximum safe level.

CHEMICAL RECONTAMINATION OF CARBON FILTERS: Another problem with carbon filters is chemical recontamination which can occur when the carbon surface has become saturated with the sum total of impurities it has adsorbed—a point that is impossible to predict. If the use of the carbon is continued, the trapped organics can release from the surface and recontaminate the water with more impurities than those contained in the raw tap water. To get the most out of carbon, it should be kept scrupulously clean of sediment and heavy organic impurities such as the by-products of decayed vegetable matter and microorganisms. These impurities prematurely use up the carbon's capacity, preventing it from doing what it does best - adsorbing light weight toxic organic impurities like THM's and TCE, and undesirable gases such as chlorine.

Solid Block Carbon: This is obtained when very fine pulverized carbon is compressed and fused together with a binding media (such as a polyethylene plastic) into a solid block. The intricate maze developed within the block insures contact with organic impurities and therefore more effective removal. The problem of channeling (open paths developing because of the buildup of impurities, and rapid water movement under pressure) in a loose bed of granulated carbon granules is eliminated by solid block filters. Block filters can also be fabricated to have such a fine porous structure that they are capable of mechanically filtering out coliform and other associated disease bacteria. Solid block filters with this feature will require replacement more regularly. Among the disadvantages of compressed carbon filters is the reduced capacity due to the inert binding agent and their tendency to plug up quickly with particulate matter. they are also substantially more expensive than conventional carbon filters.

LIMITATIONS OF CARBON FILTERS: A properly designed carbon filter has shown itself capable of removing many toxic organic contaminants, but they fall short of being an overall water treatment system for providing protection from the wide spectrum of impurities which have been referred to in this paper.
1. They are not capable of removing any of the excess Total Dissolved Solids.
2. Only a few solid block or carbon matrix systems have been certified for the removal of lead, asbestos, VOC's, cysts, fecal coliform, and other disease bacteria. Large SUSPENDED materials will be removed by some filters. Small DISSOLVED materials can't be removed by carbon filtration.

3. They have no effect on harmful nitrates, or high sodium and fluoride levels.
4. For any carbon filter to be effective (even for organic removal), water must pass through the carbon (whether it be granular or compressed) slowly enough to insure that complete contact is made between the carbon and the impurities. This all important factor is referred to in the industry as contact time. At useful flow rates of 0.5 - 1 gallon per minute, the flow rate is determined by the amount of carbon, and leading manufacturers use the right amount of carbon. One must read carefully the claims which are made by carbon filter companies. Make sure there is a Data sheet to back up their claims. Many companies have certified their water systems with National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). NSF Standard Protocols are being used by certain states such as California as the model for all systems to be evaluated against. The NSF circle on a product specification sheet demonstrates to the consumer that the product has been tested and verified by NSF and has their certification. Before we leave AC filters, there is another area to be addressed:

Minerals in Drinking Water: Purveyors of AC filter systems usually bring up the point that "We need minerals in water — these are essential for good health." The only problem with this statement is that there have NEVER BEEN any scientific studies conducted to once and for all PROVE that minerals in water are essential for good health. Frankly, it isn't a priority in the scientific community to spend the vast amounts of money necessary to conduct the investigation needed to arrive at the conclusion of this issue. Therefore, the value of minerals in drinking water remains a moot point — no one really knows for sure. Everybody may have an opinion regarding this matter — but the fact is that nobody knows for sure. One making a dogmatic statement that "minerals in drinking water are bad, or minerals in drinking water are good " really is showing his/her ignorance of the issues involved. The reason filter dealers bring up this point is because their product will not remove dissolved solids. To keep all of the dissolved minerals, requires that one keep all of the total dissolved solids, hardness, and some heavy metals. Carbon Filters in Summary: AC filters are an important piece of the purification process, although a piece of the puzzle doesn't make a completed puzzle. AC removes chemicals and gasses. This makes AC an integral part of legitimate water purification systems. AC won't remove total dissolved solids, or hardness. .

DISTILLATION: Distillation is the process of heating water to steam and recondensing it back to water by cooling it. Distillation mimics the hydrologic cycle of nature (the sun causes evaporation over the earth's bodies of water and condensation/precipitation occurs over the land masses). Distillation will remove impurities such as sediment, dissolved solids, nitrates, sodium, toxic metals, and microorganisms. These are basically left behind as the water turns to steam. Some toxic organic chemicals will vaporize with the steam and be carried over into the distillate with the water. To solve this problem, an activated carbon filter should be incorporated into the distiller either before or after the boiling chamber. As we saw, AC will remove these toxic organics. Sophisticated fractional distillers will remove these organics by heating water in fractions until the boiling point is reached. The organics are vented out at each step of the heating process. Even with the problem of organics addressed, there are still disadvantages with distillers:

1. Distillers are time consuming to maintain and clean. The impurities and total dissolved solids are left behind in the boiling chamber. A hard scale builds up on the heating element and in the boiling chamber which must be removed. If this scale is left in the system, the efficiency will be impaired and eventually diminish.
2. The product water should be cooled quickly as its elevated temperature
encourages the regrowth of airborne bacteria. This is a problem of convenience.
3. The process of rapid distillation will drive away free oxygen dissolved in the water. Many scientists and doctors refer to distilled water as dead water. The absence of free oxygen will also give the water a flat taste.
4. Distilled water costs a lot to produce because of the energy required to vaporize all drinking and cooking water (an exception to this is a solar distiller). Every rate increase from the utility company makes distilled water even more expensive.

DEIONIZATION: The process of deionization (DI) is worth discussing even though it isn't a very practical water treatment method for household use. It has appeared in several home water treatment devices however. DI is a chemical process that utilizes minute plastic beads called resins. As untreated water flows over these treated resins, the ions of total dissolved solids are leached from the water. When the resin beads become saturated they must be removed, and regenerated with acid or caustic chemicals. DI removes ONLY charged particles (total dissolved solids). DI is not capable of removing dirt, rust, sediment, pesticides, organic toxins, asbestos, bacteria, virus at all. It is therefore used in conjunction with other water treatment methods. The resins also will provide an environment that encourages bacteria growth. Water softeners work by the principle of ion exchange as well. The resin beads in a water softener will give two ions of sodium for an ion of calcium or magnesium. With the removal of the calcium and magnesium ions, the water is no longer hard.

ULTRAFILTRATION/REVERSE OSMOSIS: Osmosis occurs in living organisms in which there is a piece of tissue or a membrane with fluids on either side of it. Fluids having a lesser concentration will be drawn through the tissue/membrane to mix with fluids having a greater concentration. This is to equalize the concentration of substances in the fluids on both sides of the tissue/membrane. This can be illustrated if you cut open an avocado, and salt the surface of one half. In a short time, you will notice water has been drawn out of the avocado to try to equalize the concentration of salt placed on the surface of the avocado. Osmosis occurs when there are two fluids of differing concentration separated by a semi-permeable membrane. The fluid will pass through the membrane in the direction of the most concentrated solution. Osmosis is the process through which oxygen will go from our lungs into the blood stream, and water and nutrients will penetrate the root structure of a tree enabling it to grow. When we quench our thirst with water, a quantity is placed in our stomach. This water will be diffused into our system to replenish what is lost as the life processes proceed. In the natural world surrounding us, and inside of us, there is a vast network of biological membranes. These screening barriers govern the selection and passage of chemicals and fluids.

In essence, these membranes control the traffic of the life processes themselves. Membranes help organisms carry out an immense variety of exchanges with their environment. The gills of a fish obtain oxygen from water. Our lungs extract oxygen from the air and place it in our blood stream. In plants, the cell walls allow photosynthesis to take place by providing the medium for the transfer of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Our blood is simply recycled and renewed by many seeming miraculous processes.

One integral function is that of the kidneys. As the blood enters the kidney, it flows in small arteries in close contact with tiny excretory units of the kidney known as nephrons. From the blood, water is extracted along with wastes to become an essential component of urine. Water can remain in the nephron to become reabsorbed back into the blood stream if not enough water is consumed to be excreted freely Without our kidneys, we would not be able to survive.
The first artificial kidney was built from a cellophane membrane in 1944. In the early 1950's, Drs. Sidney Loeb and S. Sourirajan from UCLA Medical School developed the first synthetic membrane made from cellulose acetates. This had commercial Reverse Osmosis capabilities. Reverse Osmosis is exactly the opposite of Osmosis. In Reverse Osmosis (RO), water having a lesser concentration of substances is derived from water having a higher concentration of substances. Tapwater with dissolved solids and other materials in it is forced by the water pressure inherent in our water pipes against a membrane. The water is removed from this concentration of materials by penetrating the RO membrane, and leaving the materials behind this can be up to a 99% removal of dissolved solids.

The RO membrane is an ultimate mechanical filter, or ultra filter. It strains out virtually all particulate material, turbidity, bacteria, microorganisms (on potable water only), asbestos, even single molecules of the heavier organics. To appreciate the fineness of this membrane or ultrafilter, its pore size would be two one hundred millionths of an inch in diameter. That's smaller than what can be seen by an optical microscope!

By the remarkable phenomenon of RO, particles smaller than water molecules themselves are removed! The molecules diffuse through the membrane in a purified state, and collect on the opposite side. Ultrafiltration/RO membranes remove and reject such a wide spectrum of impurities from water using VERY MINIMAL ENERGY—just water pressure. RO gives the best water available for the lowest price expended.

1. Particulate matter, turbidity, sediment, etc.
2. Colloidal matter.
3. Total dissolved solids (up to 99%).
4. Toxic metals.
5. Radium 226/228
6. Microorganisms (potable water only)
7. Asbestos.
8. Pesticides and herbicides (coupled with AC).

REVERSE OSMOSIS AND ACTIVATED CARBON ADSORPTION: Ultrafiltration/RO alone will not remove all of the lighter, low molecular weight volatile organics such as THM's, TCE, vinyl chloride, carbon tetrachloride, etc. They are too small to be removed by the straining action of the RO membrane. Their chemical structure is such that they aren't repelled by the membrane surface. Since these are some of the most toxic of the contaminants found in tap water, it is very important that a well designed carbon filter be used in conjunction with the membrane. In some applications, AC is used before the membrane.

In ALL applications with quality RO systems, there is AC after the membrane. This means that post AC filters don't have to contend with bacteria and all of the other materials which cause fouling and impair performance if AC follows a well maintained membrane.

Not all RO systems are created equally. That is why you'll see such a variation in price. The engineering and experience behind the RO design is crucial to it's overall performance and dependability. NOTE: The typical time required to purify one gallon of RO water is three to four hours.

RO uses water to purify water. This is what's known as the rate of recovery. Superior RO's use three gallons of brine (waste water) to make one gallon of purified water, and have an automatic shut-off. Some systems have used up to twenty gallons of brine to purify one gallon of product water. Brine is necessary to remove excess accumulated materials from the RO membrane. These materials have been rejected from the purified water, and if left in the system impair efficiency.

Our bodies also have a waste water elimination system through the kidneys. If we can't purge our bodies of these waste materials, WE DIE. Many owners of RO systems direct brine outside and use it in an additional drip line for their gardens, etc. The cost of water energy for a fine RO system will amount to about $1.33 per month if one pays for their water at the rate of $1.00 per 100 cubic feet!

YOU CAN GUARANTEE THE QUALITY OF YOUR DRINKING WATER: You can see from the material presented here, that there is much to be aware of regarding the purchase of a purification system. All we must do is to decide how comprehensive we want our water treatment system to be. A system which combines more of the technologies will give you better product water than a system which incorporates just one. Choose the technologies which you can live with for a long time. You might have to purchase another water treatment device if you don't acquire one as sophisticated as you'll eventually need. We have a wide selection of point-of-use water systems. I'd be happy to help you choose one that will give you years of service.

Naturally Pure Alternatives
575 Live Oak Avenue
Ukiah, CA 95482-3730






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