Water: An Extremely Valuable and Scarce Resource

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Made up of 70 percent water, humans are biologically dependent on water for survival. You can survive a month without food if the water is available, but you cannot spend more than three days without water. Well, as interesting as it sounds, it throws light on the importance of water for humans.Water is used by our body to carry out different activities. It is used to remove toxins and other harmful substances from the body. It also helps perform homeostasis that is maintaining a constant body temperature of a person. It also boosts energy in the body by allowing the assimilation of minerals and other useful substances.

Despite it being a basic necessity for humans, it is considered as a leasure item for many third-world countries. Developing countries experience a water shortage on a daily basis and often fail to provide its residents with clean drinking water. People have to rely on contaminated water for survival. This results in a number of different diseases.

As mentioned above, people are not able to get access to clean drinking water. The question arises here is that what type of water is considered to be clean to be drinkable. According to the World Health Organization, water should be both odorless and tasteless. This means that if one’s taste and smell senses are being activated while drinking water, they need to reconsider its purity. While certain chemicals and minerals are added to the water to improve its overall quality, their constituents should not be to such an extreme that they start giving off a great odor and color.

If the quality of water is compromised in any way by the people, they will have to pay for it themselves. Bad quality water results in smelling breaths, something that can get hard to get rid of. Apart from this, contaminated water can result in severe stomachache. This happens due to many reasons. One of the reasons might be that the person drank tap water, which is untreated. This unprocessed water can cause viral gastroenteritis that results in the inflammation of your intestines and stomach. In addition to this, if arsenic is a part of your water, it can be quite toxic causing headaches, diarrhea and vomiting. In extreme cases, it can even result in death.

Drinking plain water(deionized or water from RO plants) might not be as healthy as drinking mineralized water.These minerals are essential for the growth and development of body. Adding magnesium and potassium can help improve the blood circulation of your body. Apart from this, adding calcium in the water can improve bones strength and regulate the rate of the heartbeat.

While we add different minerals to our water for it to become more healthy, people have also started to drink water by the addition of espagol or ORS. The reason behind increased consumption of espaghol and ORS is that people have become sick of drinking RO water.Water filtered by reverse osmosis do not have enough minerals to fulfill our body needs consequently result in fatal diseases. Hence the use of ORS enhance the taste of the water and also help to cure different diseases that the person might be suffering from. For example, adding espagol to water can help fight against diarrhea and constipation. These are effective methods suggested by the doctors. ORS is used to counter dehydration in people who find drinking plain water a difficult task.

On average, a person is recommended to drink 2.7-3.7 liters of water daily. According go health experts 8 ounce glasses of water is recommendable which is commonly known as the 8×8 rule. People usually follow it when they start drinking water as a daily habit because it is quite easy to remember. However, this number actually varies from person to person based on their body and external environment.

To calculate the right amount of water needed by your body, you should multiply your weight by 2/3. This provides an answer in ounces, which can later be converted into liters for ease. While this gives an average amount of water needed, you need to add additional amounts of water based on the physical activities that you carry out. For example, if you exercise for 30 minutes daily, you will need to add 12 ounces of water. Other factors like pregnancy or breastfeeding also result in different needs for water consumption.

Sometimes, the water intake has to be regulated in order to save the person from major illnesses. For example, if a person has an electrolyte imbalance, which is causing low blood sodium level, then it is recommended to restrict the amount of water being consumed.

The pH is the power of hydrogen, which determines the acidity and basicity a substance. In water, a pH higher than 7 is considered to be alkaline and below 7 as acidic. However, this value changes with addition to different materials in the water. For example, an addition of carbon dioxide, after being exposed to it in the environment, can cause a drop of pH. This, now acidic, water can contain several harmful minerals in itself as it easily corroded them in the metal pipes etc. On the other hand, a higher pH, let’s say 8.5, can make the water be considered ‘hard’ water. While this does not have any health risks, it still poses certain issues like deposition on utensils or formation of insoluble precipitation on clothing.

Being environmental engineers and scientists altruism have been the main drive for checking the water for its feasibility for drinking pruposes.After checking the pH, conductivity and TDS of five most commonly available brands following results were obtained.

pH Conductivity TDS
A 8.4 430 210
B 8.2 280 130
C 8.1 180 80
D 7.7 480 230
E 7.6 420 200

Table 1: pH, Conductivity and TDS of different drinking water brands in Pakistan

Source: Lab experiment results by Earthly Perspective(Rabia Nusrat; Environmental Engineer)

TDS is the most important parameter to be checked in the treated water to see either water is going to serve our health or not. There are several sources of TDS in water but minerals in water is the concern here which we are calling TDS here.According to World Health Organization RO water should not be used for drinking water as it is detrimental for health.Demineralised water causes electrolyte imbalance in the body. So, there should be adequate amount of minerals present in water for its adequate intake. Several studies prove that  higher quantities of magnesium in water results in low risk of death from cardio vascular disease(CVD).According to World Health Organization if the TDS in water is less than the range of 50-250ppm than it lacks essential minerals required by our body hence should not be considered palatable and need remineralization.

Water is one of the most significant resources of our planet Earth. Its intake should not be compromised and its quality should be maintained. Hopefully, the test results presented in the article as well as the other information provided help you select the right drinking water!

This article is written and edited by Rija and Rabia

About Rija: Rija is a student of English Literature at Forman Christian College Lahore,Pakistan.

About Rabia: Rabia is an Environmental Engineering senior at University of Engineering and Technology Lahore,Pakistan.

References:

Microsoft Word – pH revised 2007 Clean version.doc (who.int)

Drinking water should contain minimum levels of certain essential minerals (pure-pro.com)

Microsoft Word – NutrientDWfinal.doc (accomplishmoretoday.com)

Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality: Guideline Technical Document – Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – Canada.ca

What is TDS in Water & Why Should You Measure It? – Fresh Water Systems

What is TDS in Water & Why Should You Measure It? – Fresh Water System

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