Reverse osmosis is highly effective at removing contaminants from water. In fact, most RO systems eliminate more than 99% of 1000+ water contaminants.
However, although this water filtration method is more reliable than other water treatment options, it still doesn’t remove all contaminants from water.
For instance, a reverse osmosis system can’t get rid of viruses and cysts from your drinking water without UV light.
So, does reverse osmosis remove amoeba? Yes, reverse osmosis eliminates amoeba from water.
The pore size of an RO membrane is about 0.0001 microns and can thus filter any contaminant with larger molecules, including amoeba.
What's in this Guide?
- What are Amoebas?
- Can Your Tap Water Have Amoeba?
- Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Amoebas?
- How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Amoeba from Water?
- Other Water Filters that Remove Amoebas
- Which Amoeba Are Dangerous to Your Health?
- Can You Suffer from Infections from Drinking Amoeba?
- Can a Regular Water Filter Remove Amoebas?
What are Amoebas?
Amoebas, also referred to as Naegleria fowleri, are brain-eating microbes usually found in hot and warm areas like rivers, lakes, ponds, hot springs, and wells.
The size of amoebas varies between genus and the stage in their life cycle. Cysts (first stage) are tough and resistant to environmental conditions.
Amoeba, also known as the trophozoite stage, are mobile, actively feeding, and can easily infect you. The flagellate stage makes amoeba more mobile, meaning they can disperse further.
Amoebas enter the body through the mouth or nose and can travel to the brain leading to severe consequences.
Can Your Tap Water Have Amoeba?
Although water treatment centers do everything possible to eliminate all contaminants present in your water supply, amoebas can still thrive in places where there’s poor water disinfection.
This can include private water tanks, commercial water storage facilities, water heaters, swimming pools, household water pipes, and sinks.
Tap water infections from amoebas are pretty rare, but they do happen. Persons who wear contact lenses are at a higher risk of infection by the amoeba.
If you wash your contact lenses in non-sterilized water, you risk being infected by Acanthamoeba spp, which causes sight-threatening eye disease, Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK).
Amoeba can also enter your body if you drink uncleaned tap water. Using the water for a neti pot gives amoeba a direct pathway to your brain via the nose.
Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Amoebas?
Reverse osmosis is one of the best methods of getting rid of amoeba from your water. Contaminated water is usually forced through an RO membrane in a reverse osmosis system.
The membrane, which boasts tiny pores (0.0001 microns), allows only water molecules to pass through. Everything else is left behind.
Wastewater containing amoeba and other contaminants is flushed down the drain and discarded. Only pure water that is safe for consumption comes out from the other side of the membrane.
How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Amoeba from Water?
The pore size of reverse osmosis filters is approximately 0.0001 microns. They can therefore remove tiny pollutants like viruses and bacteria.
The size of amoeba is usually 8 to 15 microns, hence easy for the RO membrane to filter it out. The pore size of the semi-permeable membrane is tiny enough to prevent amoebas from passing through.
Other Water Filters that Remove Amoebas
Not all water filters remove amoeba from water. In fact, no water filters state that they eliminate amoeba from your water.
To identify the right one for this purpose, you need to check whether it is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified.
Look for systems that are NSF 53 or 58 certified. Also, it’s important to note that the NSF certification doesn’t mean that the product can remove amoeba from your tap water.
Certification simply means that the filter does precisely what the manufacturer claims it can do.
The 2nd thing to look out for is whether the filter features an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.
The micron pore sizes of RO systems, filters, or purifiers relate to what can and can’t pass through. The higher the micron number, the higher the particulate size it’ll remove.
Which Amoeba Are Dangerous to Your Health?
4 types of amoeba can cause diseases to you. They include:
- Sappinia spp.
- Naegleria fowleri
- Balamuthia mandrillaris
- Acanthamoeba spp.
Although amoeba infections are rare, they still occur. Amoeba can be found almost everywhere in wet areas.
You can also find some species in the soil or dust.
Exposure to amoeba mainly occurs when people go swimming in rivers and lakes. It also takes place when one inhales dust or aerosols with amoebas.
Actually, most people get exposed to Acanthamoeba spp. at some point in their life but rarely notice as they don’t get sick.
Exposure to Naegleria fowleri usually occurs in areas with warm fresh waters like hot springs, ponds, and water heaters, among others.
- Sappinia spp.
Sappinia spp is the least dangerous amoeba that includes S.pedate and S.diploidea. In fact, only one case of Sappinia spp has been reported worldwide.
- Naegleria fowleri
Naegleria fowler is what you don’t want ever to come across. It’s a nightmare!
The bacteria, also commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba, can lead to death. There are over 30 species of amoeba in this genus, but only Naegleria fowleri causes a rare but severe and rapid-acting brain infection.
- Balamuthia mandrillaris and Acanthamoeba spp.
Both Balamuthai mandrillaris and Acanthamoeba spp are capable of causing granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE), a fatal disease of the nervous system.
Although GAE infections are rare, they are usually fatal and occur in immunosuppressed persons. Healthy individuals can also get infected by Balamuthia mandrillaris.
Acanthamoeba spp. can cause Acanthamoeba keratitis, also referred to as amoeba keratitis.
Can You Suffer from Infections from Drinking Amoeba?
You can’t get infected by the Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating amoeba) by drinking water(source). Infections only occur when amoeba-contaminated water enters the body through the nasal cavity.
There are also no reports of infections related to drinking water containing Sapinia spp. Acanthamoeba spp or Balamuthia mandrillaris.
Can a Regular Water Filter Remove Amoebas?
Whether a filter can remove amoeba from your drinking water depends on its pore size. Brain-eating amoeba is 8 – 15 microns in size. Therefore, for a filter to eliminate it, it must be able to remove less than 8 microns.
Invest in a reverse osmosis system to ensure that your water is safe from amoebas. It will remove not only amoebas but also other contaminants in your water.
Using reverse osmosis to eliminate bacteria from your drinking water is also cheaper than buying bottled water all the time.