Ultraviolet water purifiers have become a very popular choice for people who are looking to get cleaner drinking water in their boats, homes or on camping trips. It is especially popular among well-users, because their water supply is not treated by municipal water providers.
What sets apart ultraviolet purification systems from other home water treatment devices is that they are excellent destroyers of bacterial microorganisms.
Some of those microorganism are chlorine-resistant so even local water treatment may not be adequate to rid your tap water of dangerous levels of bacteria. Therefore ultraviolet filtration is a key part in keeping your water bacteria-free.
Bacteria in water is not to be taken lightly. Of all the drinking water contaminants, bacterial microorganisms are said to pose the most serious threat to human health because their impact on the body can be almost immediate.
Take for example cryptosporidium, a waterborne parasite that attaches to the intestines and causes the disease, cryptosporidiosis. This disease may cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps and in some case, have fatal consequences. Indeed in Milwaukee in 1993, there was a cryptosporidiosis outbreak which resulted in 400,000 people getting sick and 60 deaths.
Having ultraviolet water filtration installed in your home can protect you and your family from such an outbreak and possibly save your life. Cryptosporidium is just one of the many microorganisms that ultraviolet water purifiers destroy.
What Is Ultraviolet Water Purification?
UV light is a kind of radiation that is able to destroy the DNA of bacterial microorganisms, making them unable to reproduce. Micro-organims that cannot reproduce either die or are destroyed by your body’s immune system.
Most uv lamps in water purifiers provide around 254 nano meters (nm) ultraviolet light, which is the industry standard. This measurement is destructive to bacteria but safe for humans. Having said that, you shouldn’t look at uv bulbs directly as it could do damage to your eyes.
Whilst ultraviolet water purifiers are excellent bacteria removers, there have a limitation. It is vital that you use a uv purifier in conjunction with a more conventional water filter that is designed to remove sediment. This is because when uv light shines on sediment, it casts a shadow, much like the shadow that results when the sun shines on an opaque object. If microorganisms are in this shadow, uv light is unable to render them inactive.
A quality filtration device to use in conjunction with a uv water purifier is this countertop water filter or under counter water filter. They remove not only dirt from your tap water but bad taste, odor and synthetic chemicals as well. Plus, for many years, they have the voted Best Buy by Consumer Digest Magazine.
What to look for in an ultraviolet water purifier: Before you buy one, you need to check the manufacturer’s specifications on the dosage. The dosage is the minimum amount of ultraviolet energy needed to destroy the pathogens in water.
Dosages are determined by government organizations and reputable third party labs. The most reputable is the NSF, which set standards for home water treatment units. Ultraviolet water filtration units that are certified to NSF standard 55 have met the minimum safe dosage of 40 mJ/cm2 (milli joules), otherwise stated as 40 mW/cm2 (milli watts) or 40,000 uw/cm2 (nano watts).
Beyond dosage requirement, you need to pay attention to the following information which the manufacturer should provide:
- Flow rate, UVT (ultraviolet transmittance, or how much ultraviolet light can penetrate water) and lamp energy output
The simple formula to calculate ultraviolet dosage is lamp energy + UVT + flow rate. The faster the flow rate, the lesser the intensity from the uv lamps. The lesser the UVT, the less uv light can penetrate the water and kill the bacteria.
Water treatment experts agree that you don’t need more that a 10 GPM flow rate for a home.
As for uv lamp output, most uv water purifiers have a lamp life of around 9000 hours which should provide around 12 months of protection at the stated dosage. Beyond this, uv lamps are severely weakened and won’t provide adequate protection against bacteria.
Therefore, it is important to change your uv lamps once a year and ensure that the manufacturer has spare lamps on hand prior to your purchase.
- Be sure to check your uv unit monthly for scaling. Scaling will affect the dosage and ultimately the effectiveness of your uv filter unit. Ask the manufacturer if his uv filtration system comes with a valve that automatically purges the system in order to prevent lime scale buildup. Having such a unit would make buying a water softener unnecessary.
There are many uv water purification systems on the market of varying prices and qualities. Make sure you do your homework though and check that the manufacturer provides information such as the uvt, lamp life, flow rate and a minimum of 40 mW/cm2.
Getting an ultraviolet water purifier that meets minimum standards will give your family solid protection against harmful bacteria in your drinking water and maintain their health.