The Salt Institute highlights new research from Arizona State University
The piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces which don't permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, over time, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria. This can significantly increase exposure to pathogenic bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire's disease.
The Arizona State University researchers found that the problem is not limited to hard scale formations. Soft scale, which is created with some forms of water conditioning, showed a similar tendency to support the growth of microbial films in the research.
The development of biofilms depends on a variety of factors such as water flow rates as well as the different plumbing materials. When pathogenic microbes inhabit these biofilms, home plumbing ends up being an ideal home with a direct line of contact with humans. Colonization of plumbing by disease-causing bacteria is well-documented, especially in hospital buildings and hotels.
"Unless the minerals that cause scaling are entirely removed from the pipes people are at risk of bacterial infections, especially the elderly and those with a weak or compromised immune system," said Morton Satin, Vice-President of the Salt Institute. "Once in the piping, the bacteria can be distributed through the showerheads as hot water and steam created are inhaled."
Only a salt based water softener can remove these minerals entirely by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water - as well as any iron, manganese or radium ions - and replaces them with sodium ions.
The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.
Link to study
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