Is Acidic Water Bad For You?

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It is not recommended to drink acidic water because of the high concentration of heavy metals and potentially dangerous health effects such as tooth decay and bone loss. Water that has a low pH can also damage your plumbing system, leaching metals into your water supply. 

To determine if water is acidic, alkaline, or neutral, we refer to the pH scale. The pH scale runs on a scale from 0 to 14, with neutral water having a pH value of 7.0, alkaline >7.0, and water that is acidic is anything <7.0. 

The pH of drinking water should stay between 6.5 and 8.5 to follow the water quality guidelines recommended by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

It is estimated that around 50% of the public water supply in the US comes from surface/ shallow water sources. These water supplies are known to be acidic because of high carbon dioxide content, limited filtration systems, and degradation in bedrocks, therefore, it is likely most Americans have consumed acidic water before. 

Acidic water supposedly has beneficial properties, however, drinking water with a low pH may also have some dangerous side effects. This article will cover what acidic water is, the benefits, potential downsides, and how to neutralize it in your home. 

What Causes Acidic Water?

Water may become acidic from both natural and human-induced (anthropogenic) causes. 

These include:

  • Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) from photosynthesis and respiration
  • Rock formations
  • Acid rain
  • Industrial runoff
  • Agricultural runoff

Why Is Acidic Water Bad?

It is not recommended to drink acidic water, because it contains heavy metals, which can have serious effects on your health if consumed. 

Exposure To Heavy Metals

Acidic water contains heavy metals and minerals, which can be dangerous if ingested, and if they leach into the environment. 

Heavy metals present in acidic water also cause problems for pipes because metals and minerals are highly corrosive, which can lead to damage. If acidic water can corrode metal, you can only imagine what it may do to your body if ingested. 

Not only does acidic water taste metallic, but exposure to heavy metals can lead to serious illness and poisoning in humans and animals. 

Children are particularly at risk of serious illnesses such as organ damage, suppression of the immune system, and shortness of breath when exposed to heavy metals in water. Long-term exposure to these dangerous metals may increase behavioral disorders, certain cancers, and heart disease in both children and adults. 

Poor Dental Health

Your mouth is already filled with natural acids that break down food and bacteria. Consuming acidic water can damage your gums and tooth enamel which is important in protecting your teeth against decay, therefore, your teeth may corrode faster, and you may get dental cavities.

Bad Bone Health

Consuming water with a low pH claims to prevent calcium absorption, leading to bone loss, yet, there is still not enough research to support this claim. 

However, there is evidence that prolonged exposure to heavy metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic, and chromium do have negative effects on your bone health.

Increases Gastrointestinal Sickness

Leaching of metals such as zinc and copper from water pipes can lead to gastrointestinal sickness. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Woman touching stomach painful suffering from stomachache causes of menstruation period, gastric ulcer, appendicitis or gastrointestinal system desease. Healthcare and health insurance concept

Exposure To Contaminants

Exposure to contaminants not only affects humans but also affects aquatic life such as fish. 

When the pH of aquatic environments drops to 4.5 or below, the area becomes toxic and lethal to fish. 

Plumbing Corrosion

When acidic water passes through water pipes, it can corrode and damage them. If the pH of the water is extremely low, it can even start to dissolve the copper from the metal pipes. If copper enters your drinking water, it can lead to kidney and/or liver damage. 

To prevent acidic water from corroding your pipes and entering your drinking water, frequently check the pipes for damage (copper pipes for blue-green stains and galvanized iron pipes for red stains), leaks, and corrosion. 

Potential Benefits Of Acidic Water

When ingested, acidic water can be detrimental to your health, however, there are some ways it can also be beneficial. 

Treating Skin Conditions

As acidic water has antimicrobial effects, it has shown to be effective at treating atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. Research is limited, however, applying acidic water to atopic dermatitis skin has reduced redness and itchy skin in many patients.

Another study found that also applying acidic water to the face helps to maintain a desirable pH level on the surface of human skin, protect against inflammatory skin conditions, and keep the skin hydrated.

Beneficial For Your Hair & Scalp

Washing hair with acidic water is thought to prevent hair loss and reduce dry scalp, also known as dandruff, however, enough research is yet to confirm this effectiveness.

Cleaning Fruits & Vegetables

As previously mentioned, acidic water has antimicrobial effects, therefore, some people recommend washing fruits and vegetables in acidic water to reduce bacteria and other foodborne pathogens.

Growing Plants

Some people have found that spraying plants with acidic water promotes better plant growth and reduces the amount of bug and pest infestations.

How To Remove Acidity In Your Water Supply?

Local water companies are responsible for providing you with safe drinking water unless you have a private well system. While your water distributor is investigating and fixing your water issue, use a water filter jug or install a filter system on your sinks. 

However, if you are responsible for your water source, the easiest way to neutralize acidic water in your home is to install a neutralizing filter to prevent corrosion in your water pipes and protect your health.

Can You Drink Alkaline Water?

There is currently no evidence that drinking water with a pH between 7.0 and 8.5 harms human health, however, when the pH of water exceeds 8.5, drinking water becomes bitter

Many drinking companies will actively advertise that bottled alkaline water improves your gut health, improves hydration, and lowers blood sugar. However, this has not been studied enough in humans to support these theories. 

Drinking water with a high pH also causes calcium and magnesium to build up in water pipes, and even though this doesn’t pose human health risks, it can make your skin dry, itchy, or irritated. If you start having issues with your skin, measure the pH of your water system. 

How To Measure The pH of Water?

A pH sensor is an easy and accurate way to get pH readings in your water system. They can also be used to measure the pH in soils of plants, fruits, and vegetables. 

A pH sensor works by measuring the voltage produced by the water, using the potential difference to determine if the water is basic or acidic. 

Summing Up

Acidic water can have serious health issues for humans, but this doesn’t mean you should always eliminate it from your home, as it does also have some benefits. But, if you are concerned about the pH of your drinking water at home, buy a pH testing kit and use a water filtration system. If you have any questions regarding the pH of water, or which pH testing kit will best suit your needs, do not hesitate to contact our world-class team at Atlas Scientific.

pH Probes & Sensors

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