Truth about Water

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Truth about Water

Postby amazing » Sun Apr 22, 2007 8:40 am

When i first arrived, i remember searching this site and others for info about shanghai water. i sought answers to
    a) how safe was tap water.
    b) what was the best solution to drinking water and using water in food preparation and
    c) what were the best solutions for home filtration for safe healthy drinking water.

i wound up with more questions than answers and adopted a few practices and products i abide by. this such an important topic i finding it difficult to believe i left it at that. many months have gone by and i hoped readers might be able to enlighten me further.
briefly, i read that
    a study (cant recall details) had shown high incidence of stomach cancer in shanghai and some suspect the water.
    that the tap water is more a risk for the by products of purification than the contaminants it originally contained.
    pure distilled water is actually harmful over time as it is devoid of needed minerals / elements.
    bottled water (large bottles) varies in quality eg some are actually sourced from lakes/springs as apart from being purified.
    some of the older parts of town use piping that are likely to still contain contaminants from before 'purification' of water started.
    more recently i heard that the mouth ulcers sometimes come from using tap water for cleaning teeth, i know people who actually drink the tap water.

anyway i would be grateful for further information on this
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Postby andyfff » Sun Apr 22, 2007 9:55 am

I do not have answers to all your questions, but here is what I know:

1. The study you are referring to showed that not stomach cancer, but colon cancer rates had increased in Shanghai by 100% over the last 10 years. Of course this could be for any number of reasons, water, pesticides, an increase in reporting, etc.

2. Distilled water is not harmful because the human body can not absorb minerals from water. Dr. Andrew Weil (google him if you don't know who he is) says drinking distilled water is fine, and there are no studies to show that you can get minerals from water. He says distilled water is all he drinks.

3. Yes, some bottled water is not that pure (this is true in the USA too) and some vendors even sell "counterfiet" bottled water.

I was really worried about this when I first got here, but all you can really do is use common sense and take precautions. I never drink tap water, but I cook with it (like boiling noodles) and I brush with my teeth with it, etc. I don't think you can obsess too much or you will go crazy.


Andy

p.s. Joe Jackson has a song called "Everything Gives You Cancer." Listen to it and then go sit in a dark room for a while...
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Postby kpmautner » Sun Apr 22, 2007 10:42 am

Look at the bright side. At least there is no way to get stomach bugs (ie the local equivalent of Delhi Belly or Montezuma's Revenge) from the local tap water....there are too many chemicals in it for any bugs to survive.

I'm not being entirely facetious. One of the biggest problems in many third world countries is that you have to be careful of how you wash the dishes, brush your teeth, and etc. or you do risk getting intestinal parasites. That risk is much lower here.
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Postby Globus » Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:33 am

Totally agree with the previous two posts.. While admittedly SH is not the most environmentally clean place, it is definitely not the worst. If you worry about the quality of water beyond what is common sense, you have to also think about what they put in your food, how the cattle and vegetables were grown, how much and which chemicals were used, etc. Life will become too miserable if you start looking for bugs and chemicals in every bite and sip you take.

As for the water itself, I use tap water for cooking (except for tea and coffee) and brushing the teeth. I don't drink it. For plain drinking I use bottled Chinese water, or better yet, imported water.

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Postby millerman » Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:13 pm

hmmm just thinking outloud . . .
so i don't drink cups of water straight from the tap, but i know i swallow a lot of it taking showers (i sing and like to gargle in the shower), brushing and rinsing my teeth, boiling pasta/noodles and not straining it well (about the extent of my cooking abilities). no problems so far in 5 years.

i do notice that there is no noticeable chlorine taste/smell in the water here. i always recall when i go back to the states that i definitely taste something in the water that is chlorine-ish after being used to the water here. i also notice my teeth are not as white here - i heard that there is less flouride in the water here and so its harder for me to keep my teeth whiter (i bring the same toothpaste i use back home over - arm n hammer baking soda toothpaste)- fact? fiction? not sure. any dentists out there reading this?
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Re: the truth about Water

Postby JD » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:20 pm

amazing wrote:
    a) how safe was tap water.
    b) what was the best solution to drinking water and using water in food preparation and
    c) what were the best solutions for home filtration for safe healthy drinking water.


a) Fill the sink (preferably white) with tap water and judge whether you would like to swallow what you see there
b) water purifying systems will remove most of the visible partickles and chemicals they have in the water (what you see at a).
Alternatively, use botled water, either purified or mineral water for cooking and drinking
c) bottled water from reputable company
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Postby thewalrus » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:52 pm

c) what were the best solutions for home filtration for safe healthy drinking water.


This is something I am dealing wiht now as we are having a system installed in our new apartment. Actaully some of the systems here are quite good, even can have them installed in your bathroom for the shower. Am getting the pricing ASAP so can PM you with that later.
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Postby yu888 » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:54 pm

The water i get out of my tap is defintiely mroe chlorinated than back at home in the states. The white sink defintiely shows the yellowness of the chlorinated water.

As for Flouride in the water, it seems China has been smart enough not to inject toxins in to the water just for the alleged benefit of good teeth. Do a google search on the topic if youa re curious why. Anyhow, no flouride but lots of other tooxins I am sure...;) but seriously a reverse osmosis purifier will probably go a long way here as I have been uning on in our offfice and its been working fine. never thought I'd drin purified tap but hey...better than boiled tap for sure. :)
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reg!

Postby afxduffy » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:15 pm

mmmmm...............not sure what reg regan would think of this thread!
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Postby Reg_Reagan » Mon Apr 23, 2007 4:42 pm

Water? Dont they use that stuff in beer?

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Postby yu888 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:44 pm

Hmmm, interestingly, I attended a talk about drinking water this week hosted by Dr. Xuan, an MD with years of clinical and research experience, with recent research into healthy lifestyles which led him to research the water situation here in Shanghai. A few notes about what he said about the water...

China has been trying to attain a standard for tap water for years but so far, because of the limits with the older infrastructure, no drinkable water standard has been attained yet. Current water in Shanghai, for example is very "hard' in that there are many minerals, particulates and heavy metals that have not been filtered in the processing at the water treatment plants. What DOES come out of the pipes is disinfected water with chlorine content and a few other contaminants. "Ironically", he stated, "there is nothing that can be boiled out of the water ther than Chlorine these days."

He continued to talk about what he considers "healthy" water. 1) Non toxic and no toxins; 2) Mildly Basic 7.2-7.4pH, which incidentally is the blood pH of newborns, 3) contains necessary minerals (not like many DI and distilled water which are left devoid of any minerals)

What I learned from the talk is that while drinking "pure water' without minerals is not necessarily bad for you, it does tend to leech minerals away from what it comes in contact with as osmosis kicks in, though it should NOT take any thing away from cells already utlizing these minerals. Along the same lines, Reverse Osmosis is also the only way to truly filter out heavy metals to a suitable level for drinking (96% heavymetal free for drinking / 99% free for medicinal use per US FDA standards) Given this, its my goal to find a proper filter that utilised Reverse Osmosis AND can still provide a mildly basic (pH level 7.2-7.4) water with some essential minerals.

As for rinsing and showering, he mentioned that technically, we are showering and rinsing with chorinated water (chlorine being the main active disinfecting ingredient used in public and private water systems ) Heating it up in a hot shower actually make it easier to absorb... so we are actually absorbing much mroe Chlorine than is healthy with all those hot showers. Sorry to make things seem worse... Sigh.

Reg- you mentioned beer...so did the dear Doctor. He mentioned that the best beers and alcohols, come for areas with the best source for clean water. Fresh water is clear, and soft, with a minimum of minerals and the water molecules tend to be clustered in smaller bunches. this water is a better solvent and blends better to make better beer and drinks...as well as a better cleaning solution. Guess a good beer will clean you right out!

Anyhow, i am going to look inot this more and follow up as i find more info.
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Postby yu888 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:01 pm

summarized:

1) Tap water is highly chlorinated to essentially eliminate bacteria at the water treatment plant and in the private building systems.
2) Tap water containes high levels of heavy metals that boiling and carbon filtration will not remove.
3) Tap water here is mildly acidic as it is hard with large cluster molecules of H2O and many minerals and particulate matter picked up along the way in the older water system.

and oh yeah, mildly basic water tastes sweet. weird huh?
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Postby amazing » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:15 pm

yu888, thanks for the great post. Apart from absorbing chlorine, it seems the biggest bogey is heavy metals which i recall works its way into the food chain?. if i also remember correctly heavy metals are accumulative (hard to get rid of once you have acquired them...so you slowly get 'poisoned' over time) If you can identify a suitable filter i would appreciate you dropping me a line. i gave up looking but suspected something more than micron filters and active carbon was needed. ....thanks for your informative post. ...so hot beer baths from now on!
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Postby yu888 » Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:10 am

yeah, the heavy metals have ALWAYS been my only concern about the water here and thus i have been cooking with bottled water at home all the time, even for pasta and dumplings and soups since boiling, whicl good to eliminate any hydro-carbon chemicals, deos not affect the heavy metal content. i am going to get a pH kit to test the bottled water I get, but it seems pretty good in taste and is a branded source. but having seen some of the new in-house filters in action recently, i am on the hunt for the right filter. I don;t want to take the info i get for granted until i get a chance to learn more. :) Active carbon is needed as it removes taste, but essentially, to remove heavy metals means to remove all minerals as a good filter cant tell the bad from the good. Reverse Osmosis filters made by Dow Chemical and GE are the only two specified approved filters that meet US FDA requirements so whatever filter we find on the market MUST utilise one of these filters.
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Postby profkim » Thu Apr 26, 2007 5:33 pm

Yu888, could you PM me with your final choice, cost and where to purchase? - as I am interested as well. By the way, great post.
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Postby yu888 » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:01 pm

Oh, I think i figured out the translation of the "larger clusters of H2O molecules" I mentioned above. Essentially its a measure of softness/hardness of water and its surface tension. The softer the water, the less surface tension. I guess there is an ideal point of softness that makes the water most healthy in terms of consumption and usage (for cleaning etc...). Seems the softer water with less surface tension has smaller clumps of molecules which allows for better solvency...it cleans better and I guess is absorbed better by the body's cells. (Please any experts correct what I may be wrong in translating and learning)

So far in looking at filters most of the multi stage filters are in couple to few hundred USD range but are set up for constant household use. Will see what comes up. I have my doubts that we will find the "perfect" filter but lets see what we can get.
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Postby Lotta » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:38 pm

Yes. great post, Yu... please do tell us when you have decided on what to buy and where ! I guess finding the perfect one would be difficult.. but we are lucky, we have you to do all the hard work of research and we only have to follow you. :)
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Postby chica » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:57 pm

So where can you buy those waterfilters? :D
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Postby yu888 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:11 am

I am working on it because my wife and infant son are coming to live here so i want to make sure I am providing the best I can. Glad to share the info as i learn it.
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Postby hammerforlife » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:25 am

Yu has made some very good points. I normally comment on water issues as I am involved with this but I have been away for a few days.

I've also been banging on that boiling water does pretty much no good for people in Shanghai. Due to the levels of chlorine there are unlikely to be any bacteria in the water to kill. And there are heavy metals in varying levels and boiling will not help this at all. In particular heavy metals are really bad for kids.

Reverse Osmosis, if you can get a decent kit, is one of the best ways to treat water. With all these things though you need to be careful when using as it is impossible to tell when looking whether your water has been properly treated.

I wouldn't be so concerned about particles or colour in water here though. Generally this comes from old pipes and is usually just iron. May make your clothes dirty and looks bad but by itself is not so harmful.

I don't know much about the bottled water companies here though. Does anyone know whether they have any websites, preferably in English?
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Postby yu888 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:04 am

Geez, took you long enough... I felt like I have been treading water here ;)

Hammerforlife, in case others did not know, is somewhat of an expert in terms of water quality issues as i beleive he works in a related industry. He has commented to no end about heavy metals and chlorine and such and pretty much helped me build the basis of my knowledge prior to sitting in on the talk I did earlier this week (that and a little basic chemistry and physics did not hurt ;) ).

I have set my short term goal here to finding a few things...

1) a drinking water filter with Revers osmosis that will meet US FDA and NSA requirements of 96% polutant free, including heavy metals
2) a shower filter that will allow removal of chlorine from my bathing/shower water
3) a simple tester to check water quality at least in a ver basic sense to make sure the filters do what they are supposed to.

The other goal is to continue finding new info aboutthe water so we can be as informed as possible.
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Postby hammerforlife » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:24 am

Well I made it eventually.......

yu888 wrote:1) a drinking water filter with Revers osmosis that will meet US FDA and NSA requirements of 96% polutant free, including heavy metals
2) a shower filter that will allow removal of chlorine from my bathing/shower water
3) a simple tester to check water quality at least in a ver basic sense to make sure the filters do what they are supposed to.


1) Would be a very good idea. But these filters do need maintenance. They can clog up quite easily especially if there are other particules in the water. The RO cartidges would either need cleaning or replacing on a regular basis if they are to keep working well.

Ironically many filters in China and other places just end up as breeding grounds for all sorts of stuff and make the water quality worse as the cartridges never get changed.

For 2) I doubt you will find anything. In fact I'm sure you won't. But is it necessary anyway? Swimming pools all over the World often have higher levels of chlorine than in tap water, apart from those that use ozone of course.

For 3) there is no simple test unfortunately. I've been trying to develop some myself over the years, as much of my work has taken me to remote parts of the World where there are no labs. Easy to test for chlorine, ph and bacteria but that's about it.
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Postby yu888 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:30 am

ok well... hmmm...goals may not get acheived but any progress towards getting better water is cool by me :)
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Postby hammerforlife » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:35 am

Please let me know if you find the Reverse Osmosis equipment though. Would definately be interested to know about it. My motivation is similar to yours as I have a 7 month old!
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Postby yu888 » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:44 am

me too, tomorrow.
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Postby Portsmouth » Wed May 02, 2007 11:44 pm

Yu and Hammerforlife,

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I googled on "Reverse Osmosis" and one link was the following -
http://www.freedrinkingwater.com/products.htm

Can you confirm somthing like they sell from that site will remove the heavy metals? If so, I will buy the portable countertop version before moving to SH.

Thanks a lot!
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Postby hammerforlife » Thu May 03, 2007 2:36 am

Hi Portsmouth. Yep reverse osmosis is known as the best system to remove pretty much all contamination and that does include heavy metals (it is the only system that is capable of turning sea water into drinking water too). I don't know about that particular company but as they are RO they should be fine.

Just make sure that you chose the correct model and also maintain it properly. The problem with these things is that you cannot tell when the membrane is damaged and are therefore getting no treatment at all.
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Postby Portsmouth » Thu May 03, 2007 5:35 am

Thanks, Hammerforlife! Another question - the company also sells a TDS meter, "TDS meter- High quality pocket digital water meter to test your water quality before and after the ro system. So you know the system is working." Do you think that is sufficient for me to tell the membrane is in good shape?

Thanks again! :-)
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Postby hammerforlife » Thu May 03, 2007 11:16 am

To me a TDS (total disolved solids) meter seems to be the best practical way of checking whether things are working properly. If you go for 6 months and the meter is showing that 90% of disolved solids are being removed and then suddenly it goes down to 10% then you know you have a problem.
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Postby Portsmouth » Thu May 03, 2007 11:30 am

Thank you, Hammerforlife! I will give RO filter and TDS meter a try.
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