At this year’s Total Facilities exhibition and conference one of the very well-attended speaker sessions focused on ‘The growing awareness of well-being in the workplace’, reflecting the importance the facility management industry as a whole is now placing on this area of its remit. In the speaker session, a range of industry experts discussed the topic and its relevance to facilities managers in the region. While those experts waxed lyrical on workplace design, ergonomics, physical well-being and mental health, there wasn’t a great deal of debate about what actually goes into our bodies in our working environments.
If it had, it’s highly probable that the panel would have concluded that one of the easiest things to do to improve workers’ general well- being, and therefore performance, would be to look to the absolute basics: the provision of their Adam’s ale. Their aqua pura. Their H2O. Their water.
A much-quoted statistic reminds us that nearly a billion people on the planet do not have access to clean drinking water that is safe to drink. This in itself is a shameful and shocking statistic. At this point in our planet’s history with the extraordinary technological advancements and progress we have made, how can it be that so many people don’t even have this most basic right? And this situation is only going to deteriorate with the increasing number of catastrophic weather events exacerbated by climate change. For an example, look no further than Puerto Rica in late September, which reported 1.5 million people without drinking water following the ravages of Hurricane Maria.
But, disasters aside, just how much do those of us who do have continued access to good and safe drinking water take our great fortune for granted? Because even with the opportunity to drink plenty of healthy water whenever and wherever we want to, there are many people who fail to do it, even if we have heard the recommendations of ‘eight glasses’ a day for as long as we can remember.
But what are the actual health benefits of hydration and, conversely, how are our bodies affected if we don’t hydrate regularly and thoroughly?
The downsides of regularly not drinking enough water are manifold and stretch from impaired memory and concentration all the way to urinary tract infections, rheumatism and, most unnerving of all, brain damage. Oh and don’t forget chronic bad breath and bad body odour, just to make you extra appealing to all around you.
Cue a pause while we, and you, head to fill a glass…
Rehydrated? Feeling better? If so, that’s not surprising because the benefits of getting plenty of water are many and well- documented. They include everything from improved kidney function and digestion to better productivity, reduced fatigue and even a boost in brain power. A revelatory recent study carried out by the University of Westminster and the University of East London in England found significant improvements in memory tests and attention levels shown by students drinking first 25 millilitres and then 300 millilitres of water. With children aged seven to nine there was a 31 percent improvement in the faculties, compared to 12 percent in young adults.
These results built on a study five years earlier that found when students took a bottle of water into exam rooms with them they scored an average of five percent higher than those who didn’t.
Now let’s take these statistics and transplant them into the workplace. How much more productive are staff when they are regularly hydrated with plenty of drinking water? Considerably is the answer. And greater productivity naturally leads to benefits for the bottom line. Improved health and improved profits – the very definition of win/win.
There’s a difference, though, between basic drinking water and really superior drinking water. The best water filtration systems have been developed for use in areas where access to any potable water is an issue. Such as in the UAE where water contamination is an ongoing problem due to the warm climate, which leads to high temperatures inside storage tanks (possibly 35 degrees Celsius and above) and accordingly poor water hygiene. In such an environment bacterial organisms can grow to significant levels unless a disinfectant residual – often chlorine – is used. But this can obviously affect the taste of the water too.
To mitigate these and other issues filtered water systems are an obvious choice, for chilled, boiling and sparkling water on tap 24/7. But the very best systems will go one step further and utilise state-of-art filters – from companies with products tested to the strictest health standards and certified by the globally recognised public health and safety organisation NSF (which originally stood for National Sanitation Foundation, nsf.org).
One such company is Pentair, the company chosen by Billi as a key partner in water filtration supply. Pentair is the manufacturer of the Fibredyne technology. This unique system has a complex three-layered structure, with each layer aiding in the filtration process. The first layer traps carbon fines, the second creates a cyst barrier and the third provides depth sediment filtration and chemical reduction.
This third layer is known as the Outer Media Layer and it uses powered versus granule carbon, which increases the surface area for greater chlorine reduction. It also has low density for an extremely low pressure-drop and increased dirt holding capabilities.
The three-layered structure also boasts the following benefits:
- sediments – filters out particles in the water
- chemical disinfection – removes chemicals such as fuels, detergents, herbicides and pesticides
- minerals – enables minerals to flow through the appliance without allowing scale build-up, and
- cysts – removes the growth of parasitic cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
Conventional carbon filters are made up of granules and are often held together with resin, decreasing the surface area and therefore the quality of the filtration, but the Fibredyne carbon filters are fibrous and matted together, increasing the surface area of the carbon, leading to greater contact time and better quality filtration.
But what does all this mean for the consumer?
Simply that the filtration reduces unpleasant tastes, odours and cloudiness and enhances the water quality making it suitable for consumption. And if the water tastes better and quantifiably is of a better quality, this can only lead to improved outcomes for those drinking it.
Of course, not everyone craves fresh clean drinking water. There are always contrary outliers for whom it is an anathema. We started with a quote, so let’s close with one from one of H2O’s most vocal detractors, the late great WC Fields: “Once during Prohibition I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water,” he once said…
Adrian Cugnetto is the marketing manager for Billi Pty Ltd.
This article also appears in the October/November issue of Facility Management magazine.