Safety of 97% non-drinking water we use every day

September 29, 2021 2:42 PM

Studies have proven that hard water can cause a range of issues on the quality of your hair, skin and general health. If you’ve ever had a shower and noticed your skin is really dry afterwards, it’s probably because your shower water was hard.

waterIndia as a country faces problems with water quality and is now facing problems with water availability, as well. (Photo source: IE)

By Mohammed Iqbal, 

Many of us know that we need to have clean drinking water. But, on average, drinking water only accounts for about 3% of the water we use in a day. What about the other 97% of the water we use for other purposes, like bathing, cleaning and washing?

Studies have proven that hard water can cause a range of issues on the quality of your hair, skin and general health. If you’ve ever had a shower and noticed your skin is really dry afterwards, it’s probably because your shower water was hard.

This is because hard water is filled with salts that are harmful to your skin and hair, as a result of inadequate processing before your water reaches your tap. Even if you get a water quality report claiming your water is clean, these reports are conducted on water from your local municipality. There is no way of knowing how your water has been affected in transit from there to your home. For example, the pipes that bring your water may leak heavy metals like arsenic and lead, and you wouldn’t know.

The truth is, most of us don’t think twice about the journey our water takes to reach our homes. Whether we drink it or use it for showers, we just know that we open a tap and it pours out. Maybe we will also consider that it comes through the pipes in our home. But, from the source to your tap, there are a number of factors that affect the quality of even your non-drinking water.

What is the water source?

Tap water can come from bore wells or metro water. A bore well is a deep well that burrows into an aquifers, or a layer of underground rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated material where water is trapped under pressure. Since this water comes from the ground, it is untreated and can be very hard. If you have a borewell and you notice your skin is dry after your shower, this might be why.

Metro water in bigger cities often comes from lakes, rivers or reservoirs. Coastal cities have also developed plants that harness ocean water now. This water tends to be softer than water from borewells, but it’s still not safe for you to use. This is why the water then goes through treatment.

How raw water is made suitable for home consumption?

The bulk of the work to make water safe happens in filtration and disinfection plants. These plants often use chlorination to remove pollutants from the water and keep any bacteria from growing in it. You may have seen tankers carrying around water that has gone through this treatment. This can sometimes add colour and a strange odour to your water.

Once the municipal corporation processes the water from its source, it then sends this water to homes, offices and workplaces through a network of pipes and pumping stations. These pipes are spread across cities and extend over hundreds of kilometres.

In the areas that don’t have the infrastructure to support these pipes, tankers deliver the water instead.

Why is my tap water hard?

India as a country faces problems with water quality and is now facing problems with water availability, as well. Because rivers and lakes have become dumping yards for garbage and litter, their water has become far more difficult and more expensive to process. This has reduced the overall water supply that we can get at our homes.

Over time, pollution has increased in the air and water. The plants that process this water quite often also don’t support the latest technology for purifying and processing water. There are more pollutants, so there should be more filtration as well, but not all cities have adjusted yet.

So, after going through a rough journey from source to treatment to dispersion, it’s no surprise that the water that reaches our homes is most often unfit and unhealthy for direct use. Borewell water is filled with harsh hard-water salts, and the treatment process just makes the water heavily chlorinated, without removing the hard-water salts, sediments and other impurities.

Companies such as WaterScience have made easy solutions that we can use called shower and tap filters. These can be directly installed into your shower heads, taps, geysers and hand showers to condition the hardness of water and reduce their damaging effects on our overall health.

We don’t think twice when we need to filter water for drinking, so why don’t we show the same care for our hair and skin?

(The author is Co-Founder, Head of Global Business & Strategy, WaterScience. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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