Packaged water is good for you? think again!

I’m no Microbiologist or Chemist. i just happen to know certain things from stuff i’ve read. They could be errors in this post. i doubt that though.

During my time in early secondary school, the sale of water in transparent cellophane bags began. It was widely accepted. The usually chilled, sometimes icy water helped a great deal to quench the thirst of school children and workers alike. i learnt then that a lightbulb came on upon somebody’s head when after selling food to construction workers, water was necessary. The fellow with the lightbulb went home, poured a cup of water in transparent cellophane bags, put them in a freezer. Voila! Chilled, packaged water for the price of One Naira.
In a short time, ‘ice water’, as it was called, went viral. And then people started to put all sorts of water in bags and took out to sell, so long as it was chilled, people bought them. Until it was unbearable. Ice water then came in different tastes and colours.

Enter ‘PURE WATER’:
The cellophane was machine-packed, had a name and other details such as expiry date and contact address printed on its sides. It was called ‘Pure Water’. Though it was relatively expensive, the advent of this new type of packaged water was greeted with standing ovation. Literarily. You had to stand and struggle to get yours otherwise it would have run out before you could get any as it was still very scarce, one company could provide only so much. It was Big Man water, but it slowly phased out the ‘ice water’ as more Pure Water companies opened and many didn’t mind parting with their Five Naira for one sachet because of the name and attractive packaging. And yes, ‘Pure Water’ had a different, ‘refreshing’ taste. It tasted pure. You could even taste the Chlorine and other chemicals as they worked to kill off the germs.

Enter BOTTLED WATER:
This came into public view some years down the line. This was elite water. It separated the boys from the men, so to speak. One had to cough out eighty bucks to buy a single bottle which held only one and half of the volume of sachet ‘pure’ water! An outrageous sum for very little water, many thought. But given our lifestyle of public display of material things, it thrived. It thrived so well that Bottled Water companies sprang up from every nook and cranny of the country. Business was booming. While other manufacturing companies were relocating to nearby countries because of the lack of infrastructure, the water people stayed back and made big money. Since arriving the scene, bottles of different shapes, sizes and colours have filled our markets – and littered out streets and gutters – and more companies yet spring up.

But what do these three types of packaged water have in common? They are all of no good.

Relax, don’t make that face, keep reading.

You should be made aware that the average bottled water isn’t any purer or healthier than our ‘pure water’ or even tap water or even water sourced from a deep well. Note that most bottled water companies drill boreholes thesame way pure water people do. Its also mostly thesame treatment processes that they pass through. Don’t be deceived by the many water companies that print ‘Fresh Mountain water’ or ‘Natural Spring water’ on the bottles. Rarely do they use these sources. i read about a company that gets its water from the icebergs in the Arctic. Could be true, could be false.

In reality, packaged water isn’t as fresh as water from a deep well or some tap water.
In some cases, bottled water is even worse. Storing water in plastic containers over a long period of time on shelves and especially in the sun, has its health implications. Micro-organisms grow faster in the high temperatures. Also, under high temperatures, little amounts of the plastic is dissolved into the water.

i recall my dad coming home one time all those years ago to tell us his boss had been diagnosed with Typhoid. This was surprising because his boss was(and i believe still is) a wealthy man who used to import his water from France. How he got the illness still baffles me. Maybe. He probably had too much plastic.

Moving on…

Ever notice that when you drink many of your bottled or pure water, its often like something is missing or that too much of something has been added? Well, this is cos of the treatment processes carried out to purify the water. Some of them are known in some circles to be harmful. Some such as:

• Reverse Osmosis
This process forces water through an extremely fine membrane to remove dissolved minerals. This process removes all microbes, turbidity, organic and inorganic chemicals, minerals, colour. The purified water passes through the membrane and collects in a storage container. Most of the dissolved minerals in the water cannot pass through the membrane and are flushed away as waste.

The disadvantage
Necessary minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, etc. are also filtered out. What you end up with is just water to quench your thirst with no added value. Your body does need little amounts of these minerals.

• Deionization
This is the process of removing ionic impurities in water. The resulting water is said to have no pH value since there are no ions to measure the pH by.

The disadvantage
There is a fear that because it is too pure it may actually be harmful to humans. Extremely pure water will rob the body off its useful electrolytes or ions.

• Ozonation
Water is disinfected using ozone, which kills most microbes, depending on dosage applied.

The disadvantages
» Ozone isn’t as soluble in water as Chlorine is. A water treatment plant must use complex mixing techniques to successfully disinfect water with ozone, this makes ozone treatment much more complicated than chlorine treatments.

» While ozonation does remove a variety of bacteria and viruses, it can also produce a by-product known as Bromate. i’m sure NAFDAC made everyone aware of Bromate.

» Ozone may not be strong enough to kill all cysts and spores within water when applied in low doses. Also, it doesn’t prevent the re-growth of germs within water like Chlorine would, so there may be a lurking contamination problem.

Its probably best to revert to the first form of water purification we ever knew of. When you boil your water for 15 – 20 minutes, your alright.

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One thought on “Packaged water is good for you? think again!

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