Reason For TDS Is A Poor Measure Of Water Quality


TDS is an abbreviation for Total Dissolved Solids. TDS comprises inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water. Water filtering technologies such as reverse osmosis, water distillation and ion exchange can reduce this to close to zero, whereas active carbon filters will not filter out .

The Total Dissolved Solids () in drinking water consists of inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water. is expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L) or also referred to as parts per million (ppm).

TDS comprises inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water. Typically, natural mineral water and tap water can have a value of 100-200 mg/l.

When it comes to drinking water, (total dissolved solids) is a way of measuring how pure the water is. A high TDS is generally undesirable, as it indicates the presence of minerals and other material – like heavy metals – dissolved in the water1. Typically speaking, municipal tap water will have a value of anywhere between 100-200 mg/L, with groundwater and mineral water tending to have higher numbers. Cleaning technologies such as reverse osmosis can reduce this to below zero, whereas active carbon filters typically do not eliminate from the types of water you drink.

TDS in drinking water is made up of inorganic salts and a small amount of organic matter that has dissolved. The principal constituents are usually cations (positively charged), such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium; and anions (negatively charged) such as bicarbonate, chloride, sulphate and nitrate. 

For values below 600 mg/l there is no scientific evidence that makes any difference, and no health impact has been identified below 2,000 mg/l. To complicate this a little bit there is however evidence that high concentrations of specific constituents such as calcium may have an impact, but is a very vague indicator of this, since it does not specify the different parameters that constitute the final number.

Just like most bottled mineral water contains higher TDS, the same is true for tap water. There is no evidence that TDS makes any difference as long as it is below 600 mg/l. However, if the tap water contains high concentrations of specific constituents such as calcium in some cases it may have an impact on health.

Normal TDS in drinking water values in tap water are up to 300mg/l, and so this is the level that most people are used to. However, bottled mineral water often contains a higher TDS (e.g. Evian 300 mg/l; San Pellegrino 850 mg/l).

Minerals such as calcium and magnesium in tap water are an important part of human nutrition. With TDS levels within the range of 100-300 mg/l being perfectly common in drinking water and not harmful, most tap water is very beneficial in this respect.

TDS is measured in milligrams per litre (mg/l). The average TDS of tap water in the US ranges anywhere from 40-500 mg/l, with 300 mg/l being the most common value. This broad variation is a result of different sources and treatment methods and not a matter of quality.


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