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Reverse osmosis has proven to be an effective water purification method.
It clears out physical and chemical contaminants providing clean water for consumption.
But does reverse osmosis also remove viruses or even kill them? Let’s find out!
So, does reverse osmosis remove viruses from water? Yes, reverse osmosis removes viruses from water.
A reverse osmosis system uses of a semipermeable membrane with a pore size of around 0.1 nm (nanometer). Viruses average 20-25 nm in size.
Because viruses are larger than the RO membrane’s pores, they cannot diffuse through the membrane during filtration and are washed down the drain.
Viruses that can be removed by reverse osmosis water purification include the enterovirus, the norovirus, and the adenovirus.
Note: Although reverse osmosis can remove viruses from water, it’s not designed for it. After a while, the viruses and possibly other pathogens can grow and accumulate on the RO membrane, eventually slipping into the water and contaminating it. In order to kill any microorganisms, your safest bet is to combine an RO system with a UV water purifier or chlorination.
Reverse osmosis is an impressive water purification method, but it has its limits. Reverse osmosis does not kill viruses in water; it only rejects them.
To kill the viruses in your water, you would need to combine your RO system with a UV water purifier for example. The UV light would kill any viruses by disrupting their DNA and stopping them from multiplying. UV purifiers eliminate up to 99.99% of viruses in water.
Depending on where you live, common viruses in tap and well water include
These viruses are responsible for several gastrointestinal illnesses, headaches, fever, and can also lead to respiratory issues if left untreated. Hepatitis A attacks the liver.
The norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Anyone can get norovirus if they’re exposed to contaminated water or food tainted with fecal matter.
The adenovirus causes mild respiratory illnesses like the common cold. It can also cause bronchitis, pneumonia, pink eye, skin rash, and bladder and bowel infection.
Adenovirus is largely present in groundwater, and as a result, it’s common in well water.
The rotavirus is the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis worldwide and has been responsible for several waterborne outbreaks. It’s another virus commonly found in drinking water.
Rotavirus is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly, and immunocompromised.
The hepatitis A virus causes hepatitis A, a liver infection characterized by inflammation.
The virus is found in contaminated food and water and is easily transmittable through direct contact.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, and nausea.
When infected fecal matter enters through sewage overflows or malfunctioning sewage systems, water can become contaminated with the enterovirus.
Signs of enterovirus infections include a runny nose, skin rash, cough, sneezing, mouth blisters, cough, and body aches.
Waterborne illnesses from viruses in water can lead to all kinds of symptoms. These include:
Aside from viruses, RO systems remove a broad range of contaminants from water. They include:
Reverse osmosis also removes bacteria and other pathogens from water.
As mentioned before, the reverse osmosis membrane has an approximate pore size of 0.1 nm — small enough to prevent bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens from making their way through it.
Bacteria and cysts that are removed by reverse osmosis include:
If you’re not interested in using an RO/UV combination, these other methods can help you remove viruses from your water:
If you have any thoughts about the question, can reverse osmosis remove viruses, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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