The use of shower head filters has seen an exponential growth in recent years in the UAE owing to the presence of hard water and disinfectants such as chlorine or chloramine in treated water. Showerhead filters help in removing the hardness causing chemicals (viz. calcium and magnesium) and the excess chlorine or chloramine residuals from the bathroom tap water to prevent from skin irritation, dry scalp and other similar skin issues. Water quality in the UAE is considered one of the best with groundwater being the majority source of water supply.
The hot climatic conditions along with increased per capita consumption associated with rapid population growth have resulted in water shortages. To meet this growing demand, desalination plants have been used as an additional source of water supply. Groundwater typically has higher hardness as compared to surface water sources mainly because as water moves through soil and rock it dissolves small amounts of naturally-occurring minerals and carries them into the groundwater supply. The desalination process is efficient in removing the hardness-causing minerals (calcium and magnesium); however, it could be added back to the finished water by some processes used to stabilize the water and corrosive potential. Point of use filters (POU) for drinking and showering purposes provide a good solution to resolve these issues. This article focuses on the benefits of using shower head filters and a succinct description of the different types of shower filters available in the market and their functionality.
BENEFITS OF SHOWER FILTERS
The primary benefit of using shower filter is that it prevents the skin and hair from harmful impacts of post-treatment chemicals such as chlorine/ chloramine, calcium, magnesium, etc. present in finished tap water. Disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine (formed by chlorine and ammonia) when mixed with hot shower water may take the form of chlorine gas and enter the body through eyes, nose, and skin causing difficulty in breathing, skin irritation, dry scalp prone to dandruff and breakage etc. Another possible effect of chlorine is that when mixed with organic matter in water, it forms disinfection by-products (DBPs). , some of these DBPs are found to be carcinogenic. Shower head filters that have NSF/ANSI 177 or NSF/ANSI 42 certification are designed to remove chlorine /chloramine and provide great cosmetic benefits. Showering in filtered water can result in healthier and softer hair and skin. It can also help in making hair dyes last longer thus reducing the cost of color-treated hair.
Hard water contains calcium and magnesium salts that react with fatty acids in soap to form chemicals that coagulate and do not dissolve in water, thus resulting in the inability to form lather. These chemicals produce a soap scum on the skin resulting in skin irritation and dryness. Hard water can leave the hair dull and brittle thus making it more prone to breakage. A combination of Point of Entry (POE) filters such as reverse-osmosis systems and shower filter can remove the hardness causing minerals.
CRITERIA FOR A GOOD SHOWER FILTER
The following points need to be taken into consideration before selecting a shower filter:
- Filtration Method/ Technology – there are several different types of filtration methods available for shower filters depending upon the intended contaminants to be removed.
- Lifespan – most filter cartridges last up to 6 months depending upon the volume ofwater used for showering
- Filter Cartridge Replacement – as most systems need filter cartridges replaced, it isimportant to check availability of filter cartridges for the particular shower filter system
TECHNOLOGY AND TYPES OF SHOWER FILTERS
There are many different types of technologies available for shower filters depending upon the intended chemicals to be removed. Some of the most common types of shower filters are described below:
- Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) – This method uses redox (reduction-oxidation) process to remove chlorine, lead, mercury, iron, and hydrogen sulfide from water supplies. The process also has a mild anti-bacterial, algaecide, and fungicide effect and may reduce the accumulation of lime scale.
- Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) – This method uses activated carbon to adsorb and trap undesirable contaminants/ chemicals.
Based on the method of installation, shower filters can be categorized into in-line shower filters and filtered shower heads. Filtered shower heads are shower heads with a built-in filtration system whereas in-line shower filters are installed in between the existing shower head and the water supply line.
Shower filters provide an economical and effective way of treating chlorinated water for showering purposes.
- https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2011/desalination_guidan ce_en.pdf
- https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Inorganic_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modul es_(Inorganic_Chemistry)/Descriptive_Chemistry/Main_Group_Reactions/Case_St udy%3A_Hard_Water
- http://www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/water-quality/water-filters-testing- treatment/standards-water-treatment-systems