Do reverse osmosis filters remove bacteria? How?

Do you know that bacteria and viruses can go inside your body by drinking impure water? So, how can we remove them? Is RO the right choice? How does it work in filtering out the impurities?

Because of the current outbreak of coronavirus or COVID-19, you must always engage in preventive actions all the time. For example, you must wash your hands regularly and don’t forget to drink water as it is also important.

During this virus outbreak, you must pay attention to the water which you are drinking. If the virus is in your drinking water or from the kitchen faucet, then it can enter your body through your mouth. So, how can we get safe water?

Although bottled water might seem safe, supermarkets have a limit on how many bottled they can sell or deliver. Plus, many people are unable to buy water bottles every day because of the tight budget. In order to get a sufficient amount of healthy water, many families have purchased water filters. Some traditional water filtration systems like boiling, sedimentation, and solar radiation are unable to remove viruses and bacteria, so reverse osmosis systems are considered the right choice.

What is Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse Osmosis or RO is a process to de-mineralize or de-ionize water by pushing it under pressure through a semi-permeable or otherwise known as one-way RO Membrane. The membrane works to separate contaminants from the water which you want to use. Think of it as a fine mesh with holes that are large enough to let through water molecules but too small to allow “unwanted” particles.

Let’s check out how reverse osmosis filters help to remove bacteria.

  1. a)      Reverse Osmosis is said to use a process that can reverse the flow of water in a natural process of osmosis so that the water passes from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semi-permeable membrane. Pre- and post-filters are also incorporated along with the RO membrane itself.
  2. b)      Reverse osmosis filter has a pore size of approximately 0.0001 microns.
  3. c)      RO system has high effectiveness in removing protozoa like Cryptosporidium, Giardia.
  4. d)      They are also effective in removing bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli.
  5. e)      Reverse Osmosis Systems are effective in removing viruses like Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus.
  6. f)       It can even remove common chemical contaminants like metal ions, aqueous salts, sodium, chloride, chromium, copper, lead, arsenic, radium, sulfate, fluoride, magnesium, nitrate, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.

What happens to the bacteria after it encounters an RO filter?

The filtration system of the reverse osmosis filter depends on the size of various contaminants. The smallest forms of bacteria are approximately 0.2 microns in size, which is quite small for the human eye but much large than water molecules. Water molecules are approximately .0001 microns in size, so the holes in an RO system’s membranes are only a little larger than that.

So if there is a bacteria present in your tap water and a RO system filters the water, the bacteria will not make it past the filter. It is because they will be much larger to fit through the membrane’s pores. So, the RO filter does remove bacteria from the tap water!

Does adding UV light in RO systems help in extreme circumstances?

Although reverse osmosis effectively removes bacteria from water, some rare circumstances occur when bacteria contamination is pervasive, and some additional steps can be taken to keep the water fully protected. Under those circumstances, a UV light can be added so that when the water goes through the reverse osmosis filter, it will kill off any remaining remnants of bacteria that might have made it through.

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