Learning by Osmosis

I can’t remember if I was drinking water when I watched the movie Erin Brockovich. It retrospect, it’s probably better if I wasn’t. According to a recently released report from the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), Boston’s tap water is contaminated with the very chemical that so devastated Brockovich’s clients. Great. We’re all gonna die. So then who will be left to make the movie about it?

Determined to survive (and pay cinematic tribute to) this next aquapocalypse, I’ve been doing research into what we as individuals can do to deal with our dirty water.  While the government needs to wade through the mucky goo of insufficient water regulations, I need to figure out how to prevent from giving myself cancer by trying to stay hydrated. At the same time, conspiracy theorist that I am at times, I can’t help but think that this is all an elaborate ploy to get me to buy a fancy filtration system. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

After listening to a story about this issue on NPR, I learned that reverse-osmosis filtration systems are the most effective way to eliminate chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) from water. Yeah ok, middle school science was awhile ago. Ummmmmm…what is reverse osmosis? Google to the rescue! The How Stuff Works website has a straightforward explanation of how reverse osmosis works. Awesome. Now that the science is clear, it’s time to think about the best way to actually get water that has been filtered through a reverse osmosis system.

I actually found a bunch of options pretty quickly. The EWG has a list of commercially available filters that remove chromium 6 right on their website (my inner conspiracy theorist finds this convenient, but whatever). For a few hundred dollars, anyone can have clean, fresh water in their homes (wait, weren’t we supposed to have that already for free?) The site also has a rated list of bottled water brands

Best Bottled Water Labels

Filtered Tap WaterA
Nestle Pure LifeB
Penta Ultra-Purified WaterB
Sam's ChoiceB
Glaceau Smart WaterC
Hinckley SpringsC

During a quick run to Star Market, I found a variety of brands offering reverse osmosis filtered water myself:

Buying reverse osmosis filtered bottled water is pretty convenient, but the downside is in the packaging. The negative impact of plastic water bottles on the environment (as well as the toxic chemicals from the plastic that leech into the liquid) is too devastating. Enter PuraVida H20.

The other night, after getting my dance on with the legendary Derrick Davis at The Dance Complex, I ran across the street to Central Square’s Harvest Coop to grab a couple of quick groceries. As I walked through the cafĂ© and into the store itself, I noticed a large machine to my right. It caught my eye because I saw the words “reverse osmosis” in big letters. I backpedaled a couple of steps and stopped to look more closely. PuraVida H20 offers consumers the ability to fill their own reusable (and hopefully environmentally friendly) containers with reverse osmosis filtered water. Their mission is to: “… dramatically change the way people purchase single-serve water for individual consumption while creating an environmentally-focused culture to drive success, reduce the carbon footprint, improve health, and increase savings.” Nice. The machine at the Harvest Coop was temporarily out of service, but I will definitely check back there soon to try out the PuraVida H20.

It seems that (for a well-educated, middle-class American) getting access to clean water might be possible with a bit of work. We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that our water is properly regulated and purified, to see that every citizen understands what they’re drinking and has equal access to high quality water, and even more work to do to ensure that the rest of the world has water that is clean by even the most basic of standards.

It’s amazing that for a planet and a people that so overwhelmingly composed of water that we still haven’t gotten our water right(s).  

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