Israeli tap water may eventually have to come with a skull-and-crossbones warning, if research conducted by Bar Ilan University and the Tel HaShomer Hospital proves right.
A study they conducted of 4,600 heart-disease patients showed that “in recent years, as desalinated water began to be widely used, there has been a higher death rate in hospitals in desalinated-water areas than in others,” said Prof. Yonah Amitai, a public health expert at Bar Ilan, Arutz Sheva reported.
Israel’s five desalination plants currently provide about 75 percent of the water used in homes around the country.
The findings support already existing evidence of a link between higher death rates from heart disease and the lack of magnesium in desalinated water.
Similarly, in 2013, magnesium levels in the blood of 211 patients in both areas were checked – and it was found that the levels were lower in the desalinated areas.
The corrolation isn’t news in Israel, either. Back in 2010, the Health Ministry issued a paper stating, “Israel is one of the world leaders in desalination, and though there is no required magnesium standard, we must tolerate no delay in adding magnesium to the treated water.”
The increased use of desalinated water has made the issue more urgent. Six years ago, 250 million cubic meters of water were desalinated annually in Israel; that figure has risen to 650 million cubic meters.
The Water Authority responded that it would be premature to launch a program of adding magnesium to desalinated water.
“The costs of adding magnesium to the drinking water are estimated at 300 to 350 million shekels a year, when actually 99% of the desalinated water is not used for drinking. As of now, it has not been proven that it is more effective to add magnesium to water than it is to add it to flour, for instance, or to distribute it to the populace in capsule form. Just this past week a tender was closed for the selection of an advisory company that will help us carry out the necessary research.”
The Finance Ministry said, “An inter-ministerial committee is checking the issue of adding magnesium to water. After it completes its work, it will be decided whether adding magnesium to water is the best way to provide this mineral to the public.”