Let's start off the New Year with some pure madness. Raw milk, a silly fad that my colleague Dr. Julianna Lemieux has written about, (1) is plenty stupid enough. But a company called Live Water, based in (where else?) Los Angeles, has taken suckerdom to a new level. The company is selling "raw water," (2) and if there ever were a topic put up on an American Council batting tee, this is it.
What is it? Mukhande Singh, aka Christopher Sanborn, who founded the company is a strong believer in the power of raw water (we'll have a few things to say about that below) is either completely out of his gourd or the world's best snake water salesman. There is ample evidence to support both. For example...
Blasting water with ozone changes it's molecular structure. (a)
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation uses synthetic ultraviolet light, different from our natural environment UV (b), to kill or inactivate micro-organisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA. A hard fact to swallow, but your drinking water might be considered a genetically modified organism (c).
Live Water founder Mukhande Singh aka Christopher Sanborn
(a) I must have missed chemistry class that day. Even so, I'm pretty sure it doesn't.
(b) This is possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard.
(c) Until this.
“Chloramine, and on top of that they’re putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health.”
OK, you're a conspiracy theorist.
Fluoride is a mind-control drug which doesn't help your teeth? The American Dental Association feels differently. Based on more than a half a century's research, the ADA concludes that fluoride, at the optimal concentration, will reduce cavities in children by 25%. The level is 0.7 parts-per-million, which is equivalent to 0.7 mg/liter, roughly 0.2 mg per glass of water. A lethal dose of sodium fluoride in humans is 5-10 grams - the equivalent of 25,000-50,000 glasses of water. But perhaps it takes a lower dose to control your mind without killing you. Perhaps to the point where you are delusional enough to buy this:
“Tap water? You’re drinking toilet water with birth control drugs in them."
So? Sparky doesn't seem to mind.
But does it work? Maybe so, according to this little video on the company's website. Let's summarize.
Regarding the chloramine "issue," self-proclaimed toxicologist Erin Brockovich weighs in:
The fact of the matter is chloramines are a terrible mistake. While utility companies often use chloramines as a matter of convenience, there are far safer alternatives. As a world-leading nation, we have to stop cutting corners where our health and safety are at stake...
Well, Erin, who does not have the wildest idea of what she's talking about, needs to stay out of swimming pools because when people pee in them (which is true 100% of the time See: Does a Bear Pee in the Pool?) there is sure a whole lot more chloramine in there than in drinking water. Even the EPA isn't concerned: "Switching to monochloramine is one approach that utilities can use to meet new EPA drinking water regulations...[m]onochloramine produces lower concentrations of regulated disinfection byproducts because it is less reactive than chlorine with natural organic matter."
Finally, let's take a look at Live Water's claims and see how they hold up to science. Not so well.
Conclusion: If you're thirsty, water will make you less thirsty. Duh.
Aside from throwing away money, there's a pretty good chance that "raw water" will make you sick.
Which is most likely what will happen. Here is what the Washington Post's Laura Helmuth has to say:
- 1/4/18 Addendum - A note from an ACSH friend (and a dentist) explains the seemingly small benefit of fluoride: "Today the difference between fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas is only 25% because most of our country is fluoridated, and fluoride is now ubiquitous in our country's environment, even in areas that are not fluoridated. Every time one has a processed food or drink fluoridated water was likely to have been used in its production."
(2) From Wikipedia: "Raw water is natural water found in the environment and has not been treated, nor have any minerals, ions, particles or living organisms been removed. Raw water includes rainwater, groundwater, water from infiltration wells, and water from bodies like lakes and rivers."