The Potency of Water and Why It Is Important

The potency of water is the extent to which it can dissolve and carry other substances, such as salts, into solution. It is this property that makes water an excellent solvent and a good coolant, with its low vapor pressure even at very high temperatures. Water molecules form strong hydrogen bonds with each other and are therefore strongly polar, which allows the water to dissociate ions in salts and bond to the positive and negative ends of polar substances such as alcohols and acids, thereby dissolving them. It is also the reason that the water has a relatively high boiling point for its molar mass and a very high heat capacity.

Because of this, the chemical industry uses large amounts of water to manufacture many of its products, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and chemicals. These products often require extensive purification, which is done by distillation or reverse osmosis. The process is energy intensive and generates a lot of waste, which must be disposed of by recycling or landfilling. As a result, the environmental impact of industrial water use is substantial.

In fact, water is the second largest source of waste in the United States. The potency of the world’s supply of freshwater is also a concern, because the quantity of water that exists on Earth is finite. According to a recent report, only 2 percent of the planet’s surface is freshwater. It is estimated that the rest of the surface is covered with desert, salt, and rock.

Water is vital for life, as it is essential for every metabolic process. As Albert Szent Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winning Hungarian biochemist once said, “Water is life’s matrix, mother and medium.” Water can be found in all living cells of the body and outside cells as extra-cellular fluid (ECF). Between 60 and 70 percent of total human body water is locked inside cells while the remainder is sloshing around the cells and other tissues as ECF.

As people age, their hydration needs increase. For example, it is common for older adults to develop erectile dysfunction (ED), and a lack of water may be one factor causing this condition. In addition, dehydration is an important risk factor for many chronic diseases.

Moreover, a recent study discovered that some bottled waters contain potentially harmful contaminants. Specifically, some of the bottled water tested contained trace levels of bromodichloromethane and chlorodibromomethane, both trihalomethanes, which are genotoxic and carcinogenic. The average concentration of these substances in the bottled water was 9.7 and 5.3 ppb, well above California’s contaminant limit of 2.5 ppb.

Another worrying finding was that a sample of bottled water spurred breast cancer cell proliferation. 1,200 initial breast cancer cells grew to 32,000 in four days when exposed to the sample, which was contaminated with chemicals that mimic estrogen and promote tumor growth. While the cancer-spurring effects were modest, the high volumes of bottled water consumed by Americans makes this finding significant (EWG 2008). This finding underscores the need to monitor the potency of water and eliminate any potential contaminants in drinking water.