Nagpur: “ Thanda paani bottle..thanda paani bottle” I woke up by the familiar slogan in train on my way back home. I hurriedly called him and took one bottle and relaxed. While taking one sip of cold water I felt heavenly. A few seats away I saw a child drinking same cold water.. but from his water bottle.. I guessed it was water brought from home. I remembered the days when I was a child and used to carry such water bottles everywhere and a “Cool Cage” during traveling. Looking outside window I started thinking over it. How technology changes your habits and life style. It is a basic nature of a human being to adopt himself very fast to the new changes; without giving it a single thought if it is right or wrong.
This new concept is commonly known as ‘Mineral water’; which is actually a generalized term. This bottled water which we get everywhere comes in two types – ‘packaged drinking water’ and ‘mineral water’. Very few can differentiate between the two.
Mineral water is water from a mineral spring that contains various minerals, such as salts and sulfur compounds. Traditionally, mineral waters were used or consumed at their spring sources. In modern times, it is far more common for mineral water to be bottled at the source for distributing for consumption.
Packaged drinking water is water from any source which is treated and disinfected, by a process that could involve filtration, UV or ozone treatment or reverse osmosis (RO) before it is fit for human consumption.
Mineral water is normally consumed by high society or high socio economic group of people; being expensive; whereas the majority population go for ‘packaged drinking water’. This is available under various brand names which is a least concern for the consumer.
What could be the reasons for this major change?? Non availability of potable clean and safe water at certain places and certain time, easy to carry and disposable container, affordable cost and availability at all times and all places, including where there is no water available otherwise.
When people were searching for cheaper options to buying these bottles… came domestic RO (Reverse Osmosis) machine. These machines can get you the same quality of ‘packaged drinking water’ which you buy from market. These RO machines are available and also made to order as per the quantity requirement. The competition made it reasonable for most of the classes and masses.The change is good and useful, but only when we follow the instructions given. Common man in our country is not well informed consumer, which put him in serious situations many a times. It is clearly mentioned on the bottle that it should be crushed and disposed after the first use. But well there is a common tendency of refilling it and use it over and over again till the bottle lasts. I started taking it seriously when my husband started the family business of packaged drinking water and gave me the information on the possible threats for not doing so. The plastic used for making the bottles becomes toxic on reusing again and again. So the warning..
How safe is drinking water from sealed bottles or from RO water dispenser?
Our body requires certain minerals which we get from food or water. Water from natural resources has the minerals in quantities varying from region to region. When minerals are more than the required quantities it has adverse effects on heath. Removing those extra quantities and harmful minerals is the basic idea behind RO. But the RO process removes all minerals from water. Since most mineral particles (including sodium, calcium, magnesium, magnesium, and iron) are larger than water molecules, they are removed by the semi-permeable membrane of the R.O. system..
Then how safe is drinking such treated water on regular basis? There is continuous research going on and scientists have different opinions on it. The basic threats could be put like this –
- One of the primary reasons R.O. water is unhealthy is because removing the minerals makes the water acidic (often well below 7.0 pH). Drinking acidic water will not help maintain a healthy pH balance in the blood, which should be slightly alkaline.
- This might lead to certain minerals deficiencies and could be serious as well.
- The water discharge during the process has lot of contaminants and harmful waste. If this water comes in contact of potable water from tap, there is a serious threat to that tap water being highly contaminated.
- Irregular servicing of the RO machines irrespective if its size is another issue which can create serious threat to health.
The simple message is drink water from RO only when you are sure that the tap water is not safe enough. The water sample could be tested in any lab at very reasonable cost. For the basic suspended impurities a filter method should be adopted which is safer and healthier option.