What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis (RO) systems frequently are used to reduce the levels of total dissolved solids and suspended particles within water. These systems remove a variety of ions and metals as well as certain organic, inorganic and bacterial contaminants.
Advantages of Reverse Osmosis
If you are on a camping trip, traveling in another country, or in an area with bacteria or parasite-laden water, reverse osmosis systems allow contaminant removal, and safe drinking water. If you live in an area with heavy pesticides and herbicides use, reverse osmosis can remove these substances from your water. The U.S. military has used reverse osmosis systems to change salt water into fresh water for troops, and some countries use this technology during floods and relief efforts.
Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis
Many reverse osmosis systems remove the good with the bad. Iron, calcium, manganese, and fluoride are a few of the beneficial chemicals that may be removed, depending on your system. Removing these essential elements from our drinking water doesn't pose much of a problem, since a well-rounded diet will provide these as well. However, many Americans do not eat a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. If these people also drink demineralized water, then they are more prone to vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Additionally, when used for cooking, demineralized water was found to cause substantial losses of all essential elements from foods such as vegetables, meat and cereals. Such losses may reach up to 60 percent for magnesium and calcium, 66 percent for copper, 70 percent for manganese, and 86 percent for cobalt. In contrast, when hard water (not treated with reverse osmosis) is used for cooking, there is minimal loss of these essential elements.