FIVE THINGS ABOUT ‘ R AW WAT E R ’
1 WHAT IS ‘ RAW WATER’?
Collected from springs and other so- called pure sources, “raw water” appears to be a growing natural health craze in the U.S.
2 WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT IT?
Adherents argue raw water is “healthier” than tap or bottled water because it doesn’t contain fluoride and retains beneficial minerals and “good” bacteria, which would otherwise be removed through filtration or disinfection methods.
3 WHERE ARE PEOPLE GETTING IT?
Among the startups promoting living off the water grid is San Francisco- based Live Water, which delivers untreated water to customers sourced from Opal Spring in Madras, Ore., according to the company’s website. Raw water from various U.S. suppliers isn’t cheap, selling for up to US$70 for a 9.5- litre jug.
4 ISN’T RAW WATER DIRTY?
Dr. Ray Copes at Public Health Ontario said water taken directly from nature can contain bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter, along with such parasites as cryptosporidium and giardia. Such disease- causing microbes are shed by domestic animals like cattle and sheep, as well as by wild animals, contaminating surface water that can lead to disease outbreaks in people. “We have to be aware that there are many species out there that are defecating, that are emptying the contents of their enteric tracts onto the land and into the water,” he said.”
5 WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF DRINKING IT?
Public health specialists advise Canadians against embracing the raw water fad, saying untreated water can carry a host of micro- organisms that may cause severe illness and even death. “There’s a long human history of consuming raw water over millennia and centuries and that has resulted in numerous documented outbreaks of serious infectious diseases and fatalities,” Copes said Friday. A case in point is the May 2000 outbreak in Walkerton, Ont., of E. coli 0157: H7 that sickened about 2,500 residents and killed seven.