WATER’S HIDDEN ENEMYAugust 25th, 2021 | Water and Wellbeing
The choice between tap and bottled water isn’t as simple as you think.
Why the picture of a washing machine, let me share my thoughts. How many settings do you use on your washing machine? I’ve just been to count mine, the benefit of working from home at the moment, it has 14 different options, that’s before I count the options to change the spin speed and temperature! Of all of those settings I use one, yes one. I have no idea if it’s the best one, but my clothes always come out clean and smelling like they have been washed so I assume that it is doing the job. I am sure that I could tell if my clothes didn’t look clean or if the mud from my recent mountain bike adventure was still on my shorts, but how would I know if bacteria or germs were still in my clothes?
We rely on technology and the jobs that they have saved us time doing. Some appliances are more critical than others, but we often take them for granted that they are doing the job they should with little interference from us. When your dishes and crockery emerge from the dishwasher steaming and free from food residues, you assume that the job has been done. You open your freezer, the light comes on and the items inside are frozen, you probably don’t think – “Great they are still frozen”, you assume it is working when you open the door, or like me, don’t think at all just grab what you came for and shut the door.
Our reliance is also a form of trust, believing in the brands and manufacturers adverts, or what they say it will do on the box (or tin if you are using Ronseal), and this isn’t just with technology. Have you ever bought a shampoo because it promised to give you the shiniest hair, or a skin cream to make you look younger, maybe it is just my Mum that is a cosmetic marketers dream, but these items you can tell (maybe over time) if it is working.
Domestos states that their bleach “Kills 99 percent all known germs dead”, what should I do about that 1% that they can’t kill? I could also ask if I kill something is it anything else but dead, but that is probably getting away from my bacteria and germ concern; which is how dangerous is that 1%, that they withstand the force of the bleach and hang in there, I can’t see it or what it is doing, how worried should I be? When a competitor bleach company launched a campaign slogan stating, “Kills up to one hundred percent of all germs”, I though wow, this is this better than Domestos, I should switch? They are offering to kill all germs that we know and ones that we don’t. This is a game changer. Although on closer inspection, they are saying kills up to one hundred percent, they are not saying they can actually kill them all. Technically up to 100% could mean 0% of germs. But how do we as consumers break down the advertising messages and trust in what we are using and even consuming.
BACTERIA IN THE PIPES
The Guardian wrote an article in October 2020 “Bottle-fed babies swallow millions of microplastics a day” , with the high-temperature process for sterilising plastic bottles and preparing formula milk caused bottles to shed millions of microplastics and trillions of even smaller nanoplastics. Previously The One World News, in July 2019, had an article about a Tommee Tippee baby bottling machine that was making twins sick from the black mould that was building up inside the machine – despite regularly cleaning it.
As a parent you do everything to protect your child, the knowledge that technology could be more harmful is a shocking thought. It isn’t just babies that are at risk, if you use a water bottle or a water bladder for hiking, cycling then you may have also noticed the black dots that appear. These are mould and are likely to be a biofilm, which thrive in warmer conditions. The inner surfaces of the tube, bottle, cap and valves harbour numerous species of bacteria and fungi, which grow and stick to the surfaces. Rinsing and shaking won’t be enough to remove them, they need a thorough cleaning, using a brush, soap and hot water. With the sports caps and valves, you may need to add a cleaning tab of chlorine dioxide to sterile it. Drying your equipment and bottle is just as important as cleaning it.
Storing water in bottles and tubes can develop nasties that are hidden but visible when we look for them in the form of mould, but what about the Microplastics and Nanoplastics? Let me try to put them in context of the size and what is visible to the human eye.
Microplastics, as the name implies, are tiny plastic particles. According to National Geographic they are defined as “plastics less than 6mm in diameter – smaller in diameter than the standard pearl used in jewellery”. There are two categories of microplastics: primary and secondary.
- Primary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as cosmetics and detergents, as well as microfibres shed from clothing and other textiles, such as fishing nets.
- Secondary microplastics are particles that result from the breakdown of larger plastic items, such as water bottles. This breakdown is caused by exposure to environmental factors, mainly the sun’s radiation and ocean waves.
Primary and Secondary microplastics don’t official have a lower limit but with the term nanoplastics being used for particles smaller than 6 microns it is now easier to classify their range from 6mm down to 6.4 microns, with a micron equating to 0.001mm.
Which means that without the aid of a microscope we wouldn’t see the smaller microplastics and certainly wouldn’t spot the nanoplastics. In 2018, the first microplastics were found in humans. Scientists from Austrian Environmental Agency and the University of Vienna analysed stool samples of people from eight countries and found every one contained microplastics.
We know that the water in the UK is among the best in the world, millions of tests are conducted annually to guarantee the best possible quality of water for consumers, with open access for anyone to check their drinking water quality from their supplier’s report for your area. To find out your supplier and to access your report follow https://discoverwater.co.uk/water-sector.
The reports detail the microbiological, chemical and pesticide parameters for your water region, but microplastic and nanoplastics are not listed. How do we know what we are drinking and if as the study suggested they are capable of entering the bloodstream, lymphatic system and could even reach the liver.
Water as we learnt at school in its pure form is called H2O, this is when it has all nasties removed including microplastics. Technology is available from numerous companies that will filter water and can remove many substances, but not all filters are the same and depending on the properties of them will depict the amount left over. A bit like bleach, they may claim to remove all the impurities, but how can we prove that they are gone from clear water.
When we purchase bottled water, we assume it is the best option, but bottled water has many names depending on where it comes from.
- Natural Mineral Water – comes from a named underground source, with consistent minerals (magnesium and potassium) listed in the bottle
- Spring Water – comes from a name source, with changeable over time minerals, don’t have to be listed on the bottle
- Mountain water or Table Water – can be from any source, including from a UK tap
As presented by the BBC Horizon programme – Honest Supermarket, working with Dr Francis Hassard from Cranfield Water Science Institute, they recommendation was don’t drink water from plastic bottles, due to the increase of bacteria and microplastics.
- Tap water, as it is treated and has chlorine added as a controlled level of bacteria, but microplastics are still found in the water
- Bottle water still has a considerable bacteria in the bottle, but due to the lack of chlorine, once opened the bacteria can increase. This will also impact how many times you open and drink from the bottle, as each time the bacteria from your mouth or the air will increase the levels. The nature of plastic bottles means that small plastic particles break down and mix with the water inside the bottle
The great news is the clever engineers at LUQEL have found a way to deliver pure H2O. This is through a multi-stage filtration process. You can read our Hydronar Filter Technology Whitepaper which goes into more detail on the process.
Reassuringly some technology does work and thanks to BAV institute (an accredited contract laboratory for food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies) for testing our water station over a three month period to examine the microbiological colonies in the dispensed water, and confirming that no germs, E-Coli, bacteria or microplastic and nanoplastics were detected in any of the water samples. Eliminating all doubt that the clear liquid from the LUQEL Water Station is a clear liquid and safe to drink. Pure H20 doesn’t have a taste, smell or colour, so adding mineral compounds back into the water is essential, LUQEL can share in our secret to drinking great tasting pure mineralised water.