David A. Kaufmann: Health or ecology: The solution to pollution is dilution

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.

Pollution is defined as the process of defiling or desecrating a solution making it impure or unhealthy. Dilution is defined as making a liquid weaker of harmful pollutants.

We humans can be polluted via air, soil or water in our environment. Being a human physiologist, my concern is over the pollution of our body fluids by harmful particles that cause disease.

Total body water volume is around 60 percent of the body weight. On average, body water is divided into intracellular about 40 percent and extracellular about 20 percent. Our cells are full of fluid. They are very wet with intracellular fluid! Around the cells, the extracellular fluid is divided into interstitial fluid e.g., around the cells, and plasma in the blood or lymph.

The trick to maintaining personal health and avoiding disease is to have the correct balance of water inside the cells, around the cells and in the blood/lymph vessels. This is achieved primarily by having water intake equal water output. Most of the body water enters via ingested liquids (60 percent), moist foods (30 percent) and cellular metabolism (10 percent) which is the result of chemical actions.

Only pure water hydrates the body with optimal efficiency. Dissolved substances slow down the flow of water from the gastro-intestinal tract to the blood/lymph in around the cells and then into the cells for healthy action. Therefore, coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks, sugary beverages and alcohol are not ideal choices for healthy cells.

Drinking tap water is acceptable, but not the best form of pure water. Ideally, one concerned about their health should drink some form of filtered, pure water.

Beware, that bottled water sometimes is tap water in a nice looking bottle! A Natural Resources Defense Council report stated that government and industry findings that 25 percent of bottled water is plain tap water, sometimes treated, sometimes not, but never as regulated as tap water.

So it is wise for the healthy individual to drink regularly some form of pure, filtered water. Home filtration systems can range from attached to the kitchen faucet/icemaker or under the sink to a whole house system. Even a carbon filtering water pitcher in the refrigerator can be a cost effective way to improve water quality.

How much should one drink? The recommendation of eight to ten eight-ounce glasses per day is an acceptable amount for the average person, but most people aren't average. Eight glasses would not be enough for an NFL lineman and too much for horse jockey.

A better individual rule would be one ounce of pure water for each two pounds of body weight. Divide your body weight by two, and that is the number of ounces of pure water that your body needs per day for physiological efficiency.

Also the Government Accountability Office reported that putting water in plastic bottles and shipping it just 125 miles uses 1,100 times more energy than producing tap water! It concluded that it takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.

Plastic Pollution: Our bodies can be polluted from bisphenol–A and other plastic residues in the bottle as they leach into the water over time. It would be wise for the prudent American to filter their own water at home, place it in a steel bottle and carry it with them instead of using the plastic bottles.

Also, most plastic bottles are not recycled but end up in the neighborhood, city dump or in our rivers, lakes and oceans. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that there is a Great Pacific Garbage Soup floating in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas. It comprises plastic debris that includes toys, cups, wrappers and bottles that slowly degrade from the sun's rays and wave action into smaller particles that the fish mistake for food.

Small fragments can leak into the fish, stunt their growth or even kill them. So regularly using plastic bottles pollutes not only our bodies but the soil and waterways.

Words of Wisdom: For the health of your body and that of others, drink only tap water filtered on site. If you stop drinking sugary sodas, juices and energy drinks, bottled water, milk, coffee, tea and alcohol, the wise individual will consume fewer calories, avoid potentially addictive habits, spend less money and conserve valuable resources.

The solution to pollution is dilution! Go for it!

David A. Kaufmann is a Professor of Applied Physiology (Retired), University of Florida, and resides in Gainesville.

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