With the knowledge from the previous article, it is clear that some actions must be taken to ensure the water safety. There are several solutions that have been come up with by many people to improve the quality of the water used in families.
Boil the water
Boiling will help to remove bacteria and part of virus because high temperature can denature and destroy cells. This method is cheap and simple, but it cannot remove mercury, heavy metals and toxins, so it is far from reaching the standard of drinking or cooking water. In addition, boiling tap water will increase the level of nitrite nitrogen (a carcinogen) to 2-10 times, making the water dangerous to health. Also, simply removing bacteria will not help to improve washing or cleaning experience.
Use bottled water
Many Chinese now have realized that tap water is not safe enough to drink, so they purchase bottled water (about 19L jugs) for drinking and cooking purpose. This is a quiet convenient and relatively safe option if you order from a reliable company who can deliver the water directly to your home. On the other hand, there could also be many problems with bottled water.
There are various types from various brands, and the sources are not clear – it has been reported by public media that some bottled water was just tap water indeed.
The quality of plastic bottles is not guaranteed. Some are used for very long time and already expired, and some might contain cautious substances like BPA (Bisphenol A) that has negative impacts on infants’ growth.
Transportation problems. The jugs could be exposed to sunlight and other extreme environments, and sweats from people’s hands could cause microorganism breeding in bottleneck.
Bottled water is usually used along with a water dispenser, which ought to be cleaned and disinfected regularly, or else secondary pollution could be resulted as bacteria growth would be found there.
High cost. A 19L jug of water costs 8-30rmb, and a good one is usually more than 20rmb. Continued purchasing bottled water will cost considerable amount of money, and the process of ordering is time-consuming.
You need space to store the jugs, and the water might be kept for a long time and not fresh.
Install whole house water filters
The application of water filters helps to improve our tap water for better uses. A whole house water filtration system would purify the water for all uses in your family -- it makes the water safer for showering, cleaning and laundering purposes. However, the filtered water is not clean enough to be potable yet, for the main functions of this type of filter is to remove large particles like rusts and sands, chlorine, odors, and organic matters but not heavy metals or other smaller minerals. Also, it might not be able to be installed in every family, for the installation is on the main pipe which needs to be cut out for a certain length (your landlord will properly not agree with this)! Some more conditions like power source, enough space, presence of drainage and others are requisite for the feasibility of installation.
Install water filters at individual point of uses
This option might not look as neat as the whole house water filtration system, but different filters could be used in different point of uses to solve specific problems at that point. For example, a shower filter should be able to remove chlorine from shower water, and a drinking water purifier should filter all harmful pollutants out, including heavy metals. On the other hand, there are various types of water filters that are produced with various filtering materials, how can we make sure if a filter is a functional one? Here is some knowledge about the most commonly used filter media on the market.
Activated carbon. Captures impurities that are larger than 0.2um, and it is the only medium that filtrates pesticides and performs particularly well in eliminating organic contaminants, such as humic and fulvic acid, and extracting free chlorine and bad odors from water. However, it is sensitive to temperature and become less effective when using hot water (so it would not be a good medium to make shower filters). The best activated carbon is the coconut carbon imported from Malaysia.
Ultrafiltration. It is a water purification technology that uses a semipermeable membrane to remove the particles that are larger than 0.01um from drinking water. Ultrafiltration is able to purify to macromolecular level and thus filtrates bacteria and virus. Many landlords might have installed this type of system for you in the kitchen, intending to make your tap water drinkable, which would be a great offer in other countries. However, since this system is not able to remove smaller particles like heavy metals, which are bigger concerns in China, water through ultrafiltration is still not potable yet.
Reverse osmosis (RO). RO is another semipermeable membrane that removes many types of molecules and ions from tap water by applying pressure to overcome osmotic force. The filtering precision reaches 0.0001um, which enables itself to filtrate mutually all pollutants out, including heavy metals (~0.005um). The filtered water from RO is pure water and thus totally safe and healthy for drinking and cooking. For example, the Alatai drinking water purifier from Greenwave is a great RO system that uses RO membrane from Dow Chemical, which is the best in the world, making it an ideal product to be installed in your kitchen.
KDF(copper-zinc alloy). KDF is something that chemically reacts with and removes chlorine. It also inhibits the breeding of bacteria. However, the purification effectiveness greatly depends on the level of purity of the KDF used (the best is produced in America and quite expensive). It is a great material to make shower filters, so is vitamin C and calcium sulfite, which can effectively remove chlorine from our shower water.
Among all the solutions/options, installing water filters seems to be the most convenient, cost-efficient, and safe way to improve the quality of our tap water. Among all water filters available on market, it is important to have a sharp eye so that you will be able to identify the functional products that really meet your needs. In the coming article, we will take a closer look at the water filters that are most frequently used and the best in China, so stay tuned!