We drink liters of water each day, we couldn’t survive without it. So, what do we need to know to stay hydrated and healthy? Cairo West Magazine sought advice from Dr. Nesma El Talawy, CEO and Founder of Ibn Hayan Laboratories.
CWM: Dr. Nesma, what are common illnesses and health risks that people encounter by drinking impure water?
NT: Drinking contaminated water can lead to adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders.
Some of the effects can be immediate, or may be noticed after many years. The health effects can range from no physical impact to severe illness according to many factors such as:
- The age and general health status of the person
- The type of contaminant
- The amount
- How long the person has been drinking the contaminated water
Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are compromised may be more susceptible to illness than others.
But in most cases common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Also drinking contaminated water can cause hepatitis, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis and dysentery.
What filters can offer the level of purity required and what are the main components?
Activated carbon filters are probably the best option as carbon is considered the most absorbent material known to man. Activated Carbon is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms. This tremendously increases the surface area of the carbon, allowing it to absorb great amounts of certain chemicals. The positively charged and highly absorbent carbon attracts and traps many impurities and contaminants through its tiny pores. Chemicals that are not attracted to carbon pass by, and when all the pores are full, filtering stops. This is why filters need to be replaced.
It mainly gets rid of bad tastes, odors and harmful materials like, chlorine, heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury, disinfection byproducts, parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, pesticides, radon, volatile organic chemicals such as methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE), dichlorobenzene and trichloroethylene (TCE). When choosing a carbon water filter, the decision must be made between an activated carbon water filter and a carbon block water filter. The multilevel filters are best.
Are carbon filters more reliable than bottled water?
Filtered water is a more economical option and it also has fluoride, which is good for teeth formation. But no filter will give a good performance over the long-term use unless it receives regular maintenance. As when contaminants build up, a filter can become less effective and actually can make water worse releasing harmful bacteria or chemicals back into the filtered water. In order to keep filters working properly, one must follow the manufacturer’s maintenance directions. And see how often filters should be changed.
What tests can be made to ensure that water is clean and potable?
Drinking water should be checked against pathogens, heavy metals and pesticides. Pathogens can be viruses, protozoa or bacteria. To actually test water for specific harmful organisms is very time consuming and expensive. Therefore, testing water is limited to investigating presence of specific bacteria called coliform.
Total coliform organisms are a group of bacteria that are commonly found in the environment in the feces of animals and humans, and are an indicator of the safety of your water. However total coliform bacteria don’t cause illness, but their presence is a warning sign and indicates that disease-causing organisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites) are present and could cause a potential health risk. Checking lead levels is also very important, as even very low levels can be toxic.
Dr Nesma El Talawy
CEO & Founder – Ibn Hayan Laboratories