Sunday, 28 March 2010

This has to be the ultimate scare story.

Tap water can now make you fat, give you cancer and fill you with lead. It's even worse than smoking. Passive hydration can be but moments away now.

Naturally, it's in the Daily Eek!

Tap water is safe. Unless there's a specific problem, it's drinkable. It's not very interesting, but it is possible to drink the stuff if you really want to, or if you run out of whisky. (Not tonight. Tesco have responded to the new booze duty by knocking ten quid off Isle of Jura. They are also selling a litre of Grants for twelve quid.)

You're not likely to get Guinea worm or Giardia from tap water in the UK. You're not even likely to get cholera these days. No, not even Cryptosporidium. Tap water is not something that anyone needs to get tense about.

In some places - such as here - the over-use of chlorination makes the stuff taste terrible and can make your tea taste as if the milk's gone off. It also makes espressos taste odd. So I have a filter-tap that deals with the taste. Lots of people have them, they are cheap and easy to fit, and how often you need to change the filter depends on how much you use. The filter is there because the water tastes funny, but there's no danger in drinking the unfiltered stuff. I just don't like the taste.

This is severe overkill -

I believe the best way to serve ourselves the cleanest water possible is to use a reverse osmosis purification kit.

Reverse osmosis purification is what I use in the lab. It is very expensive but it's important when preparing media for growing bacteria. Why? Because the water that comes out of the tap has been treated to kill bacteria. Tap water is therefore useless when your aim is to grow bacteria.

I don't drink that water. It's 'work' water. I would not install an RO unit at home because it takes a long time to purify the water - and if it's working fast, it's not working properly. There is absolutely no need for it, and if you use it to fill bottles with water, keep in mind that the water in your bottles now contains nothing that can stop bacterial growth.

I was going to say that the only thing left to scare us with now is air - but I seem to remember they've already started on that one.

An awful lot of people are going to believe this, you know. Can't drink alcohol, can't drink fizzy pop, and now can't drink water. An awful lot of people are going to be ordering those RO units for their homes too. That's actually a good thing for me, it'll bring down the price of those filter units, but it's an absolute waste of money for everyone else.

Water is safe. You can drink it.

If you must.


English Viking said...

Dude, I really worry about you.

Grant's is like paint stripper and Isle of Jura is fermented formaldehyde.

Get some Ledaig, 10 year old. It's good for your liver.

naturalnoble said...

I've seen a few fellow weight lifting types worry about the oestrogen in tap water. Mostly guys who were enhanced and have a fetish for anything chemical related I think.

Anonymous said...

In Victorian times, ale and beer were drunk in preference to the then-untreated water, because it was safer. How ironic then, that just at the time that the dreadful dangers of all this contaminated and filthy and disease-ridden tap water should come to light the Anti Alcohol League are busy sharpening their knives to make into the next Big Bad Thing the very substance which might save our modern lives, just as they saved the lives of our Victorian predecessors. One might almost believe they are trying to kill us all off. No - surely not!

Leg-iron said...

English Viking - Ledaig is a good one but I like a bit of variety. Currently I have the Gen Moray open.

The Grants is emergency whisky and visitor whisky. I'm expecting visitors at the end of the week and they won't be putting lemonade in the good stuff!

Leg-iron said...

naturalnoble - some of the muscle guys are just weird. They live on powdered protein mixtures and worry about a trace of chemicals in the water they mix it with.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - small beer should make a comeback. You can drink that stuff at breakfast even if you drive. A pint of it won't put you over the limit (until the limit goes so low that your aftershave will do it).

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that RO filters ase the only way to remove fluoride from tap water...

Giolla said...

Air scare: Ok only for London but...

London’s air is "invisible killer"

Pogo said...

I'm in full agreement with the late W.C.Fields... "I never touch water, fish fornicate in it!".

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Leg-iron, as you're a scientist, help me here.

How can a filter remove chlorine from your water? Wouldn't warming it up have the roughly the same effect? So, if it's chlorine that's the problem, why does it make the tea taste funny, since by definition that water has been boiled?


The Confused Chemist.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

@wh00ps - I reckon you might be right. Flouride would be hard to remove by any other method. Ion exchange resins possibly, but what could you regenerate them with? It's tough stuff...

RO requires very high pressures, though - it's an energy-intensive process, and probably noisy, unless you're talking about tiny volumes. You can get manual machines - some ocean-going yachts carry them - but it takes a LOT of work to make a few litres of drinkable water.

Leg-iron said...

Weekend yachtsman - the odd taste doesn't taste like chlorine. There are other chemicals involved in water purification, such as chloramine, and those chemicals might be the reason I could never keep a tropical aquarium alive. Even adding that chlorine-remover didn't save the fish. I gave up on that a long time ago.

Whatever the taste is, the filter takes it out. It has an activated charcoal component as well as a physical filter.

I don't know if it works on fluorine.

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