Silicon Valley is developing an obsession with
untreated, unfiltered water.
“Raw” water can spread bacteria and diseases including
cholera, E. coli, Hepatitis A, and Giardia.
People make illogical decisions and buy into absurd
trends because of a reliance on emotions and their personal
experiences over historical and scientific
Silicon Valley is no stranger to bizarre trends.
The latest: unfiltered, untreated water. Sold as “raw” or “live”
water, fans say that the beverage has health benefits that tap or
traditional bottled water lacks.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with this. First, there’s
no scientific evidence that untreated water has additional
health benefits. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that water
that isn’t properly treated is extremely dangerous.
“Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can
be found in water,” food
safety expert Bill Marler told Business Insider.
Unfiltered, untreated water, even from the cleanest
streams, can contain animal feces, spreading Giardia, which
brings on symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea and results in
roughly 4,600 hospitalizations a year. Hepatitis A, which
resulted in 20 deaths in a California outbreak in 2017,
can be spread through water if it isn’t treated. E. coli and
cholera can also be transmitted via untreated water.
The reason these infections aren’t killing Americans
constantly is because of scientific advances — and safety
regulations — that have been made over the last
Obsession with the dangerous beverage
in certain circles reveals both an unscientific self-absorption
and a lack of historical understanding.
Because filtered, treated water has become the norm, Marler says,
most people don’t realize how dangerous s0-called “raw water” can
“The diseases that killed our great-grandparents were completely
forgotten about,” he said.
Most Americans don’t personally know anyone who died of Hepatitis
A or cholera, thanks to advances in technology and more stringent
safety standards. As a result, they had a hard time realizing the
risks involved in consuming untreated water.
“It’s fine till some 10-year-old girl dies a horrible death from
cholera in Montecito, California,” Marler said.
In other words, those who forget history are doomed to repeat
In fact, the lack of clean water is still an issue in the modern
world — including parts of the US. Roughly 200 million
Americans said in a recent survey by the water advocacy
brand Bluewater that they worry about contaminants in their
It’s a problem that persists far beyond untreated water.
“Similar to Bodega (which seeks to replace independent
corner stores) and the now-defunct Juicero (which sold $400
juicers), ‘raw water’ startups may be trying to solve a problem
that doesn’t exist — at least in Silicon Valley,”
Insider’s Leanna Garfield.
According to Marler, the raw-water trend is similar to people’s
obsession with raw milk or opposition to vaccines. While they
lack scientific evidence, they’re convinced that they are
correct, in part because they have failed to see the
repercussions of life without scientific advances.
Spring water — without any modern filtering systems — appeals to
people’s emotional idea of purity and health. It only takes
talking to a scientist or reading a history book to see that
consuming unfiltered water has lead to countless deaths over the
“You can’t stop consenting adults from being stupid,” Marler
said. “But we should at least try.”