The Science Bit

For those of you who like facts, figures and research, here’s the science behind all things water and water filtration systems

The Science

Discover:

  • The facts about tap water quality in the UK
  • What reverse osmosis and antioxidant, alkaline water is
  • The science behind BMB Technology water filters and water purification

UK Water Quality

Many of us believe that drinking water in the UK is some of the safest and cleanest in the world. Yet, how often have you had a sip of tap water and smelt chemicals? And what about that odd, unnatural taste? Or discolouration?

We asked ourselves these questions too. And we believe in making an informed decision about drinking water, so our first source of data is the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). The DWI is the independent body responsible for monitoring drinking water quality supplied in the UK. Have a look below at their annual reports and here are some excerpts from their cover letter to the Minister:

The DWI Annual Drinking Water Report 2019

“In England, compliance failures and unplanned events are dominated by microbiological parameters such as coliforms, E. coli, and low-level Cryptosporidium detections. This is compounded by repeated turbidity failures at treatment works. The changing patterns of the weather can play a role, with increased numbers of failures during heavy rain. Asset condition is a significant risk, since poor condition or structural defects permit ingress. Any manifestation of this risk could have serious consequences. There were three detections of metaldehyde (from slug pellets). Metaldehyde still remains available to use, and is very difficult to remove from raw waters, presenting an ongoing risk.

In 2019, there were 547 events in England where an unexpected failure in the water supply or water quality may not have met the minimum standards expected. Any event which may pose a risk to consumers’ water quality and supply is an unacceptable situation and is investigated based upon risk. The performance of the industry is measured by the Event Risk Index (ERI). In 2019 the ERI for England was 723.

Four companies in England: Northumbrian Water, United Utilities Water, Southern Water and Thames Water, were above the national ERI. Notably, Northumbrian Water were over 2.5 times the value of the next highest company, due largely to an unplanned event at Whittle Dean works where Cryptosporidium was detected. All four companies will be subject to further scrutiny.

During the year, 39 site audits were carried out by Inspectors, assessing operation, risk and competency. These, together with risk assessments, compliance assessments, and events, generated 544 recommendations, as a first stage regulatory intervention. All recommendations and their responses are assessed and scored. Severn Trent Water, United Utilities Water, Southern Water and Thames Water were identified as performing below expectations and have transformation programs in place for improvement. I am pleased to report the positive response by the companies to these programmes.

In 2019, 75 legal Notices were issued, but it was not necessary to issue any Final or Provisional Enforcement Orders. Two prosecutions were completed in 2019. One at South Moor, operated by Northumbrian Water, recorded the largest fine ever for a Water Quality prosecution at just under £500,000. The second was at Coppermills, a key works supplying north east London, where four charges were brought against Thames Water.”

DWI Annual Report

DWI Drinking Water Minimum Standards

What's In Your Water?

We thought we’d film a water filter replacement at home (with a bit of help from Antony’s son on camera) so you can see what is lurking in our water. 

Contaminants in Water

Whilst we have high water quality standards in the UK, our drinking water can become contaminated anywhere in the supply chain – right from the water treatment works, through the municipal piping and even in our own home’s piping.

Contaminants can either be man-made or found naturally in water supplies, they include chemical (e.g. pesticides and toxins), physical (e.g. sediments), biological (e.g. viruses, bacteria), radiological (e.g. uranium).

Many of these contaminants can be harmful to our health, sometimes by building up in our systems over many years or, in the case of a virus or bacteria, they can cause immediate harm. This Is why we need to have a reliable water purification system.

Examples of Contaminants Found in Water Supplies

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Arsenic
  • Chlorine
  • Copper
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Fluoride
  • Selenium
  • Thallium
  • Nitrate/Nitrite
  • Sulfate
  • Zinc
  • Silver
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Barium, MTBE (Methyl Tert-Butyl Ether)
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Radioactive substances. 

Water & Our Bodies

With between 60 and 75% of our bodies consisting of water, it makes sense that we want to put the healthiest possible water into and on our bodies.

Every single cell, organ and tissue in our bodies needs water – it is essential to life and staying healthy and disease-free.

The Science Behind the BMB Nova Pro Under Sink Water Filter

BMB Nova Pro + Biocera is one of the most technologically advanced water filtration systems in the world. The system, which is primarily designed for home and commercial use, comes standard with 7 filters (with 11 stages) and Smart Water capability. Nova Pro incorporates state-of-the-art filters. The first three pre-filters are infused with Zinc nano-particles that activate in water for antibacterial properties.

The system features a digital controller with Smart Water capabilities. BMB Nova Pro continuously analyses the purified water and displays the results on screen. The system will know when water is consumed and will immediately reverse flush the membrane filters afterwards to protect their output. 

The system also does many things in the background such as track water temperature, errors and filter lifetime in order to give the highest up-time possible while delivering the best experience

With the push of a button or by looking at the bar graph on the display, the user will know exactly how many days are left until the next filter change. The system will also create a sound alarm when it is time to change the filters and even cut the water flow if it is surpassed significantly.

How Each Filter Works

The sediment filter works by blocking and accumulating any particles in the water that are larger than the 5 microns pore size. Any contaminants with a size smaller than 5 microns will pass through the sediment filter freely and will be captured at a later stage of filtration.

A sediment filter is commonly employed as a pre-filter in other water filtration systems at home like Activated Carbon filters and Reverse Osmosis filtration systems to protect the other filters from getting clogged by large particles.

Contaminants Reduced or Removed:
Sediment, particles, dust, rust, iron, manganese, microorganisms (bacteria, algae, fungi, etc.)

The filter is made from NSF Certified Coconut Shell Carbon and has a very high capacity to reduce taste and odour. Coconut shell has one of the highest absorption rates in water filtration due to its ultra-high surface area and honeycomb style pores. Certain chemicals such as chlorine gets trapped in these pores and are ultimately removed from water.

To increase the adsorption process even further, the carbon is treated with Nitrogen to make them “activated”. This will not only attract the chemicals into the pores but also make sure they stay there.

Some of the major contaminants that Coconut Shell CTO Carbon Block removes or reduces are: chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, nitrate, phosphate, lithium, pharmaceuticals, microplastics, arsenic, asbestos, lead, zinc, copper, mercury and other heavy metals.

Containing Carbon, the filter removes Chemicals such as chlorine, herbicides and pesticides. With the addition of 0.5 micron (0.0005mm) filtration, this filter also acts as a finer sediment filter.

The fourth and fifth stages are 300 GPD reverse osmosis membrane filters that give a total flow of 1000 litres per day (this can be 0.5-2 litres/minute depending on incoming pressure) instantaneous flow.

How Reverse Osmosis (RO) Works

Molecules in the water are forced through a semipermeable reverse osmosis membrane with a pore size of 0.0001 microns, which makes it capable of removing up to 99% of contaminants in water, including microorganisms like bacteria and cysts.

Contaminants that have been captured on the membrane surface are flushed away to drain as brine (wastewater), which keeps the RO membrane clean and makes it last longer.

The system also includes extra stages to enrich the purified water.

The sixth to ninth stages consist of 2 x Biocera (A.A) filters which produce water that reduces harmful active oxygens (free radicals) out of the body and prevents diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s diseases, cancer and more. Biocera (A.A) Water contains essential calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium minerals that improve our body’s metabolism, brain activity, improves energy and maintains our health. Biocera (A.A) also enhances the taste of the water.

Biocera is patented water filter technology to enhance the health-giving properties of water. A Biocera filter improves the water structure, increases alkalinity and gives the water antioxidant benefits. Biocera filters have an international NSF certification.

The Science Behind the BMB 1000 Whole House Water Filter

This two-stage filter is made from nano zinc powder infused, NSF certified polypropylene fibres. The fibres have a +97% efficiency of filtering particles that are 5 microns or larger while the nano zinc powder acts as an antibacterial agent for any microorganisms in the incoming water supply. Although zinc is an element that humans cannot live without, it is lethal to microorganisms such as bacteria, virus, algae, fungi, etc.

Contaminants Reduced or Removed:
Sediment, particles, dust, rust, iron, manganese, microorganisms (bacteria, algae, fungi, etc.)

The second two-stage filter is made from NSF Certified Coconut Shell Carbon, which has a very high capacity to reduce taste and odour compared to charcoal filters. The carbon block filter is also wrapped in a microporous cloth, which not only filters sediment but also protects the honeycomb style pores of the carbon from particles so their filter capacity is used on contaminants such as chlorine as opposed to dirt. To increase the adsorption process further, the carbon is treated with nitrogen to make it “activated”. This not only attracts the contaminants into the pores but also makes sure they stay there.

Contaminants Reduced or Removed:

Chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, nitrate, phosphate, lithium, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics, arsenic, asbestos, lead, zinc, copper, mercury and other heavy metals.

The third filter is made from NSF certified KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) Media and NSF Certified Silver Impregnated Coconut Shell Granule Activated Carbon (GAC). The KDF media is a high-purity copper-zinc media that filters contaminants in water using an oxidation/reduction (redox) process.

The nano silver impregnated Coconut Shell Granule Activated Carbon (GAC) is a two-stage media that not only filters common contaminants found in water supplies such as chlorine, but also kills bacteria and reduces poor taste and odour. Each granule is impregnated with silver and unlike standard GAC carbon, which can promote bacteria growth, the silver prevents the growth of bacteria and aids in killing them.

Contaminants Reduced or Removed:

Chlorine, hydrogen sulphide, calcium carbonate, magnesium, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, nitrate, phosphate, lithium, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics, arsenic, asbestos, heavy metals (lead, zinc, copper, mercury, iron, chromium, etc.) and microorganisms (bacteria, algae, fungi, etc.)

This filter is made from harmless polyphosphate mineral (siliphos), which is gradually released into the filtered water to form a very thin layer of film on water contact surfaces such as: pipes, heating elements, shower, kitchen, etc. This thin layer prevents the limescale (scale) found in hard water from depositing on these surfaces by repelling scale forming molecules as well as coating them to prevent scaling further downstream. The film also protects surfaces from corrosion because it blocks molecules containing oxygen, which leads to oxidation, which leads to rust and corrosion.

Contaminants Reduced or Removed:
Water hardness (calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, carbonate, bicarbonate, etc.)

What to Choose?

There’s undoubtedly a lot of choice when it comes to water filters. Our personal view is that a combination of the whole house water filter and an under sink water filter provides the best possible drinking water and cleaner water for bathing, washing and appliances.

So, you have the whole house system as your first line of defence to filter out the majority of contaminants – giving purified water for bathing, brushing your teeth, the washing machine and dishwasher etc. Then you have an under sink water filter as your last line of defence to extract all the bad stuff and – importantly – remineralize your water, making it the best quality antioxidant, alkaline water for drinking, washing fruit and veg and cooking.

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