I received a call at 11:30 this morning from Paul Alongi, (our college’s Technical and Feature Writer) and by 12:30 Jennifer Phillips and a camera man from Fox Carolina were in my office asking me about “raw water.” Here’s the result:
This story is motivated by some recent reports (e.g. here and here) of raw water becoming a fad. The quick summary of my thoughts is that raw water doesn’t seem to have a much merit. Most of the ways we treat water leave in whatever minerals may be doing us good. The one argument that may have a bit of validity is that some microbial communities in water sources could be good for our bodies. Treatment (especially disinfection) would indeed remove or kill those microbes. But it would be a stretch to assert that any particular water source has the kinds of microbes our bodies need; that has not yet been shown by the many excellent researchers who study microbial communities. And even if it were to be shown, leaving water untreated leaves us susceptible to the many kinds of harmful microbes (pathogens) that cause serious diseases. The remote and unproven chance that raw water may be helpful is greatly outweighed by the high and proven chance that it may be harmful.