121 Americans spent $21 billion on bottled waters in 2012, and more and more consumers are investing in a home water filter. A filter can range from an inexpensive carafe or pitcher to a system designed for the whole house, but the latest machine to make waves is the water ionizer, which passes an electrical current through tap water in order to turn it alkaline (i.e., base) through the chemical reaction called electrolysis. Proponents claim alkaline water helps the body neutralize acid in the blood, provides more energy, slows the aging process, and is, according to the online purveyor Alkaline Water Plus, "packed with natural antioxidants [negatively-charged electrons], which are free to naturally fight free radicals .... Drinking
antioxidant water all day long will help you prevent and even reverse free radical damage." "Change your water, change your life," is the trademarked slogan of Kangen Water, marketed by the U.S. branch of the Japanese company Enagic. "Keeping ourselves Alkaline is the first line of defense in fighting any disease," Cal Water Systems states on another website. "Ionized Water essentially renews us at a cellular level. This is as close as we can ever hope to get to a Fountain of Youth, as incredible as that may sound." That does sound incredible. And expensive! Don't know about you, but it made me really curious about how water ionizers work. But first, a little background on the pH scale, which is used to define degrees of alkalinity and acidity. In 1909, S.P.L. Sørensen, director of chemistry at Carlsberg Laboratory, in Copenhagen (founded in 1875 by beer magnate J.C. Jacobsen), invented the pH scale while researching proteins, amino acids, and enzymes—the basis of protein chemistry today.
137 Animal studies in the 1990s by researcher Phyllis Mullenix, at the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Research Institute, showed that rats exposed to fluoride in the womb were much more likely to behave in a hyperactive manner later in life. This could be due to direct damage or alteration to the development of the brain. (Mullenix's adviser told her she was "jeopardizing the financial support" of her institution by "going against what dentists and everybody have been publishing for fifty years, that [fluoride] is safe and effective," and she was fired shortly after one of her seminal papers was accepted for publication,according to Grandjean and a book by investigative journalist Christopher Bryson called The Fluoride Deception.)
Multiple studies also suggest that kids with moderate and severe fluorosis—a staining and occasional mottling of the teeth caused by fluoride—score lower on measures of cognitive skills and IQ. According to a 2010 CDC report, a total of 41 percent of American youths ages 12 to 15 had some form of fluorosis. Another study showed structural abnormalities in aborted fetuses from women in an area of China with high naturally occurring levels of fluoride.
There have also been about 40 studies showing that children born in areas home to water with elevated levels of this chemical (higher than the concentrations used in U.S. water fluoridation) have lower-than-normal IQs. Grandjean and colleagues reviewed 27 such studies that were available in 2012, concluding that all but one of them showed a significant link; children in high fluoride areas had IQs that were, on average, seven points below those of children from areas with low concentrations of the substance.