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Drinking Water - An effective solution results in dreadful problem

Updated on August 16, 2014

Minimum Calcium requirement in drinking Water as per Indian Standards

Search for pure drinking water

Search for pure drinking water could be more challenging, particularly, in India which has vast diversity in its Geographical pattern.

River water is chemically correct water but is contaminated by physical impurities and in some places by biological impurities. Fresh water lakes and underground water with chemical composition recommended by WHO also fall into this category. These impurities are easily removable by conventional or modern treatment methods which normally does not involve major risks.

Problem starts when the 'Total dissolved Solids' in water increases. These impurities are difficult to remove as they are chemically bonded. Distillation and 'Reverse Osmosis' are the only ways to remove these chemical impurities. Distillation process is not economically viable in India and so lots of 'Reverse Osmosis' water purification plants are constructed and a lots are in the process of implementation.

True to the reputation, the process removes all the Chemical impurities present in water. Removal of all the impurities present in water makes it more corrosive and reactive. In this state water tries to dissolve and consume all the minerals.

For example minimum Calcium content to be present in water is 70 part per million whereas the RO(Reverse Osmosis) plant output has a Calcium of less than 5 ppm.If this water is consumed the highly reactive water starts consuming Calcium from our physic mostly from bones.

My experience

Being a Chemical Engineer having worked in Water Treatment plants of various sizes and processes, I have seen and experienced the kind of effect the water generally has on the involved society.

In one district in north eastern state of India, joint pain and bone related problems increased substantially to the local public. This had become a big issue and the locals started agitation for the closure of the plant. But, a compromise was arrived at, and the company that was executing the project succumbed to pressure and a separate unit was installed in the downstream of the Reverse Osmosis modules to mix Calcium in the output water.

But this awareness is not prevalent in other areas.Calcium addition is not carried out in most of the water plants. People living in these location drink water that has a deficiency of Calcium content in their drinking water. Residents of Metropolitan cities are increasingly opting for bottled water which again normally is RO plant output water which is again having less Calcium content.

There are various research papers published in this subject detailing the effects of reduced Calcium to human health US, Canada and other countries.


Agricultural land contaminated with RO reject Water

Calcium is the most abundantly available mineral in our body. 99 % of it is stored in bones and teeth and the rest in other cells. The bones, in fact act as a reservoir for Calcium. Bones also use Calcium for remodeling of our bone structure that is happening every moment of our life. Calcium is constantly released to the blood system by the bones as and when the required level in blood reduces.

Calcium is very important for our basic regulatory processes like,

  • Contraction and relaxation of muscle (including normal heart beat)
  • Coagulation of blood
  • Transmission of nerve impulses
  • Activation of enzyme reactions
  • Stimulation of hormone secretions
  • Integrity of intracellular cement substances

If such is the importance of Calcium then where do we get it ?

Food can supply a small portion of the requirement. But the major supplier is water. Even if we consume Calcium rich food, it cannot match the quantity derived from water.

So when Water, the important source of Calcium to our body is deprived of Calcium completely during the Reverse Osmosis process this might, in the long run, result in Calcium deficiency.

Consuming Water with low Calcium results in high risk of fracture in children, some pneuro degenerative diseases, pre-term birth and low weight at birth.

water front

What do you think - The Water you are consuming is safe ?

See results

Social Impact

`Direct supplies from 'Reverse Osmosis Plants' have started years back and new ventures are underway. Apart from this hundreds of small processing plants have come up who supply 20 liter drinking water bottles at low rates. Almost all of these suppliers use Reverse Osmosis process for water purification and obviously the Calcium content would be less than 5 ppm. (Photo of an analysis report conducted on a bottled water is enclosed for your verification)

All lower middle class people residing in cities where pure water is scarce use this bottled water and think they are safe. Are they really safe with this Calcium deprived water ?

Almost all upper middle class families in cities, are much more health conscious. So they buy a proto type Reverse Osmosis unit and it has almost become a status milestone in their social circles. Unaware that the water that they are consuming is devoid of essential minerals.

As no awareness program is in place for this problem, everyone has safely considered drinking this water is safe. You can just start talking with your neighbors, colleagues, relatives, friends and their families and enquire about the health condition of the family members. You will be surprised to hear that more than 60 % of the people would have bone related problems.

Or, you can take census on how many Ortho Clinics were there 5 years back and how many are there now ?

The patients are increasing at an alarming rate, Without knowing the cause they are getting treated.

This could well end in a catastrophe.


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