Does RO remove mercury from water
| |

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Mercury From Water?

Mercury contamination in water sources is a cause for concern due to its detrimental effects on human health. Understanding how mercury gets into our water supply and how to effectively remove it is crucial. One method that is often considered is reverse osmosis.

In this article, we will explore what mercury is, where it is found, the impact of mercury on human health, and whether reverse osmosis is capable of removing mercury from drinking water.

Key Takeaways

– Mercury is a heavy metal that can be found naturally in the environment.

– It can enter water sources through natural processes and human activities.

– Exposure to mercury can have serious health implications, especially on the nervous system.

– Reverse osmosis has been proven to effectively remove mercury, along with other contaminants, from drinking water.

– Other alternative methods, such as activated carbon filters and water distillation, can also remove mercury to some extent.

– When choosing a mercury water filter, factors such as installation, maintenance, cost, water flow rate, physical space, and customer reviews should be considered.

What Is Mercury?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that exists in various forms, such as elemental mercury and inorganic mercury compounds. It is a heavy metal that can be silver-white, liquid at room temperature, and highly toxic. Mercury is commonly used in industries such as mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, and it can find its way into water supplies through natural processes or human activities.

Where Is Mercury Found?

Mercury can be found in different environments, including air, water, and soil. It can also be present in living organisms, particularly fish and shellfish. Natural sources of mercury include volcanic emissions and weathering of rocks, while human activities such as coal burning and waste incineration contribute to the release of mercury into the environment.

How Does Mercury Get Into A Home’s Water Supply?

Mercury can enter a home’s water supply through various pathways. It can leach into groundwater from natural deposits in the earth, contaminate surface water through runoff from mining operations or industrial activities, and even contaminate well water due to improper waste disposal. Once mercury enters the water supply, it can be present in both dissolved and particulate forms.

Impact Of Mercury On Human Health

Exposure to mercury can have severe health consequences, particularly on the nervous system. Mercury can accumulate in various body tissues and organs over time, leading to neurological disorders, kidney damage, and cardiovascular problems. Pregnant women, infants, and children are particularly vulnerable to mercury poisoning, as it can affect the developing brain and nervous system.

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Mercury From Water?

Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Mercury From Drinking Water?

Reverse osmosis (RO) is an effective method for removing mercury from drinking water. Mercury is a heavy metal and a common contaminant in water sources due to various human activities and natural deposits. RO filtration works by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane, which blocks larger ions, including mercury.

According to various sources, including water filtration experts and manufacturers, RO filtration can remove approximately 95% to 97% of mercury from water. This level of filtration is considered to virtually eliminate the risk of mercury poisoning through water consumption or absorption. Systems with thin film composite membranes or filters containing KDF media, such as under-sink filters, are also effective in reducing mercury levels in drinking water.

How Reverse Osmosis Systems Work

In a reverse osmosis system, water passes through several stages of filtration before reaching the faucet. The process typically involves a pre-filter to remove sediment and chlorine, a semi-permeable membrane to filter out contaminants, and an activated carbon filter to remove any remaining impurities and improve taste. As a result, the water that comes out is purer and free from most contaminants, including mercury.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

Advantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis has several advantages when it comes to water filtration:

– It effectively removes a wide range of contaminants, including mercury.

– It improves the taste and odor of water.

– It does not require the use of chemicals or electricity.

– It is a relatively low-maintenance filtration system.

Disadvantages Of Using Reverse Osmosis

However, reverse osmosis also has some drawbacks:

– It can be wasteful, as it produces a significant amount of wastewater.

– It removes beneficial minerals from the water, which may need to be replenished.

– It requires regular filter replacements to maintain optimum performance.

What Else Does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

In addition to mercury, reverse osmosis systems can effectively remove various contaminants commonly found in water supplies. These include bacteria, viruses, heavy metals like lead, chlorine, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. Reverse osmosis provides a comprehensive level of water purification.

Alternative Ways To Remove Mercury From Water

If reverse osmosis is not a viable option for removing mercury from water, there are alternative methods available. Activated carbon filters are commonly used to remove organic contaminants, including mercury, through the process of adsorption. Water distillation is another technique where water is boiled, and the resulting steam is condensed, leaving behind contaminants, including mercury, in the boiling chamber.

How To Know If Water Is Contaminated With Mercury

Testing water for mercury contamination requires specialized equipment and should be done by a certified laboratory. However, there are some signs that may indicate the presence of mercury. These include a metallic taste or smell in the water, discolored or cloudy water, and the presence of fish with high levels of mercury in nearby water bodies.

How Much Mercury Is Safe In Well Water?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for mercury in drinking water at 2 parts per billion (ppb) or 2 micrograms per liter (µg/L). This standard applies to public drinking water systems, which are routinely tested to ensure safe mercury levels. However, private well owners are responsible for ensuring the quality of their own drinking water, as private systems can be more susceptible to mercury contamination. It is recommended that well owners test their water for mercury and maintain their wellheads to protect their health.

Naturally occurring levels of mercury in groundwater and surface water are typically less than 0.5 µg/L, although local mineral deposits may produce higher levels in some areas. If you are concerned about the mercury levels in your well water, it is essential to have it tested and, if necessary, take appropriate measures to reduce the concentration to safe levels.

Key Considerations When Choosing a Mercury Water Filter

When selecting a mercury water filter, several key considerations should be taken into account:

Installation & Maintenance

Consider the ease of installation and whether professional assistance is required. Additionally, factor in the maintenance requirements, including filter replacements and cleaning.


Determine the initial cost of the filtration system, as well as ongoing expenses for replacement filters.

Water Flow Rate

Consider the desired water flow rate to ensure the chosen filter can meet your household’s needs.

Physical Space Available

Consider the available space for the filtration system, whether it be under the sink, on the countertop, or in a separate area.

Customer Reviews

Read reviews and feedback from customers who have used the specific mercury water filter to gauge its effectiveness and reliability.


Mercury contamination in water supplies is a serious issue that requires effective water treatment methods. Reverse osmosis has been proven to be an efficient system for removing mercury, along with a wide range of other contaminants, from drinking water.

However, other alternative methods like activated carbon filters and water distillation can also provide some level of mercury removal. When choosing a mercury water filter, it is crucial to consider factors such as installation, maintenance, cost, water flow rate, physical space, and customer reviews. By selecting the right filtration system, you can ensure the safety and quality of your drinking water.

FAQs – Does RO Remove Mercury From Water

Q: Does reverse osmosis remove mercury?

A: Yes, reverse osmosis is an effective water treatment technology that can remove mercury from drinking water.

Q: What are the health effects of mercury?

A: Mercury can have detrimental effects on the nervous system, kidney function, and cardiovascular health.

Q: Can a water filter remove mercury?

A: Yes, certain water filters, such as activated carbon filters, can effectively remove mercury from water.

Q: How common is mercury in drinking water?

A: The presence of mercury in drinking water depends on various factors, but it is commonly found in low concentrations in water supplies.

Q: Is mercury exposure through tap water a concern?

A: While tap water typically contains low levels of mercury, prolonged exposure or consumption of water with high mercury concentration may pose health risks.

Q: How does reverse osmosis remove mercury?

A: Reverse osmosis utilizes a semi-permeable membrane that effectively filters out impurities, including mercury, from the water.

Q: What is the best water treatment system for removing mercury?

A: Reverse osmosis and activated carbon filtration systems are considered the most effective methods for removing mercury from water.

Q: What is the maximum containment level for mercury in water?

A: The maximum containment level for mercury in drinking water, as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is 2 parts per billion.

Q: Are water softeners capable of removing mercury?

A: Water softeners primarily target water hardness and are not designed to remove mercury or other contaminants.

Q: Can mercury be present in water in the form of vapor?

A: Mercury can be present in water as dissolved mercury ions, but it does not commonly exist in the form of vapor in water.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *