The Pros and Cons of Reverse Osmosis Filtration
Do the benefits outweigh the downsides?
Reverse Osmosis filtration is one of the most fascinating, evolved forms of water filtration technology. For example, many countries are using reverse osmosis to desalinate seawater in an effort to combat water shortages in key locations. Currently, most of the operating desalination plants provide water in the Middle East or North Africa (44%). However, as water accessibility becomes more urgent (and as the effects of climate change start to uncover new needs across the globe), scientists expect that salination capacity will grow 7 to 9 percent annually — and that’s all by using reverse osmosis on a large scale.
But for such advanced technology, there is a lot of confusion around how it works, what are its benefits, and what are its downsides? Let’s take a look.
What is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?
Unlike activated carbon filtration technology that uses certain materials to attract contaminants that bind like magnets, reverse osmosis uses a semi-permeable membrane for filtration. Think of it like a mosquito net. Reverse osmosis forces water through a semipermeable membrane, leaving all particles larger than the net behind.
But phrasing it like that does reverse osmosis an injustice; it’s more than just forcing water through a net. It uses a considerable amount of water pressure, making it the most effective water purification technique on the market.
[Reverse Osmosis] uses a considerable amount of water pressure, making it the most effective water purification technique on the market.
This process essentially sifts out particles that are larger than 0.01 micrometers or larger in size, which can include many types of sediment, bacteria, and even fluoride and lead particulates.
It’s also important to note that the reverse osmosis process does not require thermal energy, and instead, relies on high-pressure pumps. In layman’s terms? This means that it doesn’t require access to a power supply, it just needs a lot of water pressure.
As an example, for brackish water, your water pressure flowing through your reverse osmosis system will be between 225 and 376 pressure-per-square-inch (psi). That’s more than 6x the average water pressure to a standard size home (usually between 40 to 45 psi).
The Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Filtration
There are many benefits of reverse osmosis filtration. With more than 40 percent of Americans using some form of water filtration in their homes, and a percentage of that being reverse osmosis, let’s see the benefits they’re receiving.
Reverse Osmosis filters the most contaminants.
When it comes to removing the most contaminants, reverse osmosis stands out from the pack. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cites reverse osmosis as one of the most “effective in eliminating all disease-causing organisms and most chemical contaminants.”
For example, the Aquasana Reverse Osmosis + Claryum Filter is tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 58, 401 + P473 for the removal of 95% of fluoride and mercury, 97% of chlorine and arsenic, 99% of lead and asbestos plus 82 additional contaminants. Plus, it adds back in those healthy minerals your body craves, like Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.
Reverse Osmosis filters down to the lowest micron.
Additionally, they note that “filters that use reverse osmosis, those labeled as “absolute one micron filters,” or those labeled as certified by an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – accredited organization to ANSI/NSF Standard 53 for “Cyst Removal” provide the greatest assurance of removing Cryptosporidium.”
Reverse Osmosis assists those experiencing water shortage.
As we’ve previously discussed, there are many rural communities and urban areas alike experiencing increasing water shortages. And while the surface of the planet might be 71 percent water, only 2.5 percent of that is freshwater (i.e. some rivers and lakes, groundwater and surface water), and only 0.3 percent of the total water is potable. Many areas — like Dubai — have turned toward desalination via reverse osmosis to generate additional potable water to their cities.
The Downsides of Reverse Osmosis Filtration
So while it is the most effective water filtration technique on the market — preventing particles as small as fluoride from entering your water — it’s also inefficient from an eco-friendly standpoint.
More water wasted.
According to the EPA, “Reverse osmosis units use approximately three times as much water as they treat,” which you might, in turn, see appear on your water and energy bill. In fact, many household reverse osmosis systems only recover between 5%-15% of the water they filter.
Some noticeable pressure drop
And while the Aquasana Reverse Osmosis + Claryum Filter features a reliable flow rate of 0.5 Gallons per Minute, most people who use alternative reverse osmosis filters experience a fairly noticeable pressure drop in their water flow rate.
Wastewater requires proper disposal thereafter
Additionally, there aren’t many options for the proper disposal of wastewater. You can dispose of the wastewater into the sea, but for those who are landlocked, you should consider an evaporation system to avoid runoff or groundwater contamination, as it can be detrimental to the ecosystem.
All of the above is why, at Aquasana, we take great pains to make our reverse osmosis system the most efficient, reliable and durable water filtration system on the market. The Reverse Osmosis + Claryum filter reduces 15x the contaminants of the leading pitcher filter brand. Plus, with the included remineralizer, you’ll get healthy amounts of calcium, magnesium and potassium for optimally alkaline, pH balanced water.
Reverse osmosis might sound complicated, but it’s an easy choice to make. Whether you’re looking to filter the most contaminants from your water, or just trying to protect your family from contaminants like fluoride, reverse osmosis will keep you safe, secure and healthy.
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