RO Filter : Water purification has long been practised. Traditional forms of water purification techniques like sedimentation, and disinfection have been now replaced by modern systems, for example, chlorination, distillation, RO purification, and ionisation to name a few.
Chemical water purification is now used to cater to the large scale population through an industrial setup. It serves the need currently, and using these techniques can be beneficial for the long term if proper safety measures are followed. As we know it to get profits and to gain market share, many varieties of marketing campaigns are used by companies to lure in the prospective customers and many a time the consumers fall into the trap. Discounts, packaging, and various water treatments are shown to them in order to sell the products and reach the targeted sales mark.
In this article, we are going to speak in detail about the reverse osmosis system of water purification and how the companies producing these RO filter units in the market are marketing them.
RO Filter Marketing Strategies, and it’s affects on Consumers
A reverse osmosis system removes sediment and chlorine from water with a pre-filter before it forces water through a semipermeable membrane to remove dissolved solids. After water exits the RO membrane, it passes through a post-filter to polish the drinking water before it enters a dedicated faucet or in simple words the outlet. Reverse osmosis systems have various stages depending on the number of pre-filters and post-filters. The more sophisticated the system, the more it gets the attention in the market and prices sores up for the particular unit.
The RO membrane is the focal point of a reverse osmosis system, but an RO system also includes other types of filtration. RO systems are made up of 3, 4, or 5 stages of filtration.
Every reverse osmosis water system contains a sediment filter and a carbon filter in addition to the RO membrane. The filters are called either pre-filters or post-filters depending on whether water passes through them before or after it passes through the membrane.
The reverse Osmosis filter system has 3 main filter types:
- 1. Sediment filter: Reduces particles like dirt, dust, and rust
- 2. Carbon filter: Reduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorine, and other contaminants that give water a bad taste or odour.
- 3. Semi-permeable membrane: Removes up to 98% of total dissolved solids (TDS).
According to a report published in 2020, The National Green Tribunal in India ordered to Ban on the use of RO, Reverse Osmosis Water Filters in Delhi areas with Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) of less than 500 per litre. Therefore the information about whether the filter system is healthy and safe for consumers use is to be tested and verified. The first and foremost point one needs to know about RO Water Filters is the fact that it is an artificial process of filtering water and has been reported to cause consumer health problems as well as environmental pollution. They pointed the current system of Reverse Osmosis discards about 80% of processed water leading to huge wastage. The Tribunal also directed the Central Ministry of Environment to frame rules for the manufacturing and sale of RO filters in India.
Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification process using a partially permeable membrane to remove ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water. The purification involves the application of pressure to overcome Osmotic pressure and force water molecules through the semipermeable membrane.
In the beginning, demineralized water, distilled water, and deionized or reverse osmosis-treated water use were included only for – industrial, technical and laboratory purposes. Their use in drinking water treatment began in the 1960s because of increasing water demands due to various reasons like population growth, high living standards and industrialization. Notably, demineralization of water was in fact needed were the primary or the only abundant water source available was highly mineralized brackish water or seawater. Unfortunately, their use in treating drinking water increased widely both from Governments and also consumers’ side at domestic-front.
Many countries around the world use Reverse osmosis water filter purification to improve water for the sake of drinking and cooking. On the other hand, there are also concerns about its use. RO filters do not just kill the bacteria; they also remove all salts and essential nutrients like Calcium and Magnesium. World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the minimum/optimum concentration of calcium and magnesium in drinking water signifies “energy content”.
A report by the World Health Organisation in 1980 showed that natural water is purely demineralized (distillate), which results in unacceptable organoleptic properties and a definite adverse influence on both human and environmental consumption. For example, many studies show higher water Magnesium is related to lesser risks for Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) and especially for sudden death from it.
On the other hand, it is also found that consuming water low in Magnesium and Calcium lead to neural and bone health adversities. The WHO report concluded making international and national authorities responsible for drinking water quality. It has clearly set guidelines/standards for specifying the minimum content of the relevant elements like Calcium, Magnesium and TDS in the demineralized water that will be used for consumption.
The households also contribute to the increasing demand for these units. Many urban homes use RO filters/devices to purify water. Apart from offering clean drinking water, they also cause a huge amount of water wastage in return. On average, for every one litre of water purified, RO filters reject about three to four litres. The wastewater carries with it the rejected contaminants. If there’s high content of total dissolved solids (TDS), the water rejected is not even suitable for gardening, bathing or cleaning vessels. It’s only use is in flushing toilets. Moreover, there are also concerns if metals and chemicals trapped in the brine can cause an environmental impact.
Such water wastage has been a disastrous consequence for mega metro cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai where large-scale use of household RO devices has increased the total water demand. In its order, NGT directed wherever RO is permitted, manufacturers should ensure recovery of more than 60 % water.
Scientists and researchers are also stating their views on this matter. While some of them are in favour of the demineralisation of water with the use of the RO filter process, most of them belonging to the scientific community are challenging it. For example, M V Shashirekha, a former chemist at the Department of Mines and Geology in Bangalore explains. She was quoted saying that RO plants are good for highly contaminated groundwater with nitrate, fluoride, etc.
“From other sources though, RO filtered water can be harmful as it removes all essential nutrients“, she adds. Unfortunately, the current RO plants do not have a calibration to consider the water source. S Vishwanath, a water expert with the Biome Environmental Trust in Bengaluru says RO is overkill most times. Therefore, the issue remains at a standstill and it is yet to be seen what occurs in the coming years.