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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Amoeba from Drinking Water?

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
Last Updated on

Yes, reverse osmosis removes amoeba from drinking water. The pore size of a reverse osmosis filter is about 0.0001 microns which helps to eliminate 99.9% of organic contaminants including amoeba.

Are The Filters Affected by Amoeba?

No, reverse osmosis filters are not affected or contaminated by the amoeba they filter. They work hard to keep your water pure, but due to their properties, they will not become contaminated themselves.

Still, you should replace your filter every twelve months to ensure it continues working because they degrade over time.

What Are Amoeba and Why Are They Harmful?

Having amoeba in your drinking water can have harmful and potentially deadly consequences. According to the CDC, tap and faucet water can contain the amoeba Naegleria Fowleri, more commonly known as brain-eating amoeba. Yikes! That is not something you want in your drinking water.

Amoeba in Tap Water

While brain-eating amoeba can usually be found in natural bodies of water, there are rare cases where it has been detected in drinking water and caused deaths. People are most commonly affected by brain-eating amoeba when submerging their noses underwater, although it can be harmful when consumed.

Information on Brain-Eating Amoeba

With such a terrifying name, the typical first emotion after learning about it is panic. People think Could there be brain-eating amoeba in my drinking water? Have I been infected? Thankfully, these cases are rare and most people do not need to worry about being affected by them. However, it is good to be cautious by learning the warning signs and investing in a reverse osmosis system to remove any risk of infection.

Symptoms of Brain-Eating Amoeba

WebMD lists the following symptoms as signs a person may have been infected by brain-eating amoeba:

  • Blurry vision
  • Coma
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations or brain fog
  • Headache or migraine
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures

These symptoms generally show themselves within a few days, and no longer than two weeks after contact with the amoeba. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, you should rush to the doctor immediately. While most people do not survive this infection, there are some treatments you can try.

Once the symptoms reveal themselves, there is little you can do. Most patients die within a few days. It is a difficult disease to diagnose, so many cases are only confirmed after the patient has died.

However, there are some silver linings. Brain-eating amoeba infections are not contagious, so you will not be at risk if you encounter someone who has succumbed to the disease.

You can also prevent the risk of infection by purchasing an RO system to remove any harmful amoeba from your drinking water. Children are particularly susceptible to brain-eating amoeba, so if you have children in your household, RO water can be life-saving.

Where Else Are Brain-Eating Amoeba Present?

Brain-eating amoeba is usually present in freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers, hot springs, or ponds. Take extra caution when swimming in freshwater for this reason.

You should also be wary of brain-eating amoeba when you get water in your nose, especially if you are using a neti pot. That’s why RO water is one of the safest water for neti pots.

Another high-risk place for amoeba is in bathtubs. If you have children who take baths frequently, a reverse-osmosis water filter is a great idea to keep your kids safe while bathing.

Chemicals like chlorine can kill amoeba, so you are probably safe in a swimming pool or hot tub. However, if the chlorine levels are low enough, some amoebas will still be able to slip through. Brain-eating amoeba cannot live in saltwater, so if you swim or surf in the ocean, do not worry.

How to Choose a Quality RO System for Amoeba

Overall, be sure to look for ro systems labeled with NSF 53 or NSF 58. Filters with this label meets the American National Standards Institute-accredited testing.

What To Look for in a Quality Reverse Osmosis Filter

You can purchase a reverse osmosis system that goes on your countertop, under your sink, or one that protects your entire home.

You also want to look at how much wastewater is produced. An efficient RO filtration system should have somewhere between 25-50 percent drinkable water. The leftover will be waste, with concentrated contaminants.

Reverse osmosis water systems can cost anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars depending on the size of your system. Good health is priceless, though, so it is well worth your money.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
  1. My RO system has 5 micron and 10 micron filters. In your article you mention 0.0001 microns. Are we talking the same thing here?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Rob, perhaps you are reading the specs of the sediment filter component and not the main mechanism of the RO system. Please see the linked CDC reference article on the typical filtration system capabilities.

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