The biological membranes of human cells prevent salt from entering them. While the human body has the ability to normalise chloride and sodium concentrations to a certain extent, handling very high salt concentrations in the blood can be very challenging. With this in mind, we ask whether you can drink sea water. Is it safe to do so?
This normalisation of chloride and sodium is due to the fact that the cell membranes are semipermeable. While chloride, sodium and varying other substances do not have the ability to diffuse in out of cell with ease, water does.
When salt concentrations outside cells exceed concentrations on the inside, water moves from a cell’s inside to the outside in order to regain balance and equalise the concentrations on both sides of the membrane. This process is called osmosis.
When you drink sea water
When you drink sea water, you are taking in a fluid that is nearly four times as saline as your bodily fluids, potentially causing cells to shrink due to the net water transfer from the inside to the outside of your cells. The regulatory mechanism of your body to regain a balanced, isotonic state could in this case be fatal.
Attempting to eliminate excess sodium from extracellular fluids, your kidneys will produce urine. However, the urine your kidneys can produce is invariably a little less salty than sea water. This means that when you drink sea water, you will urinate out more water than you drank in the first place. This will ultimately result in dehydration.
Then, of course, there is the risk of the sea water being contaminated by chemicals, bacteria or other micro-organisms that could make you seriously ill or may even kill you.
The statement that you can drink sea water is therefore false.
Preventing illness and other mishaps
It is therefore vital to prevent illness and potential death by never drinking sea water. Preventing being made ill by food poisoning bacteria when eating in restaurants or cafés may not be as simple.
Here, you have to rely on the responsible owner, manager or staff taking the necessary precautions to prevent food poisoning outbreaks.
Duty of care
Owners of such establishments have a legal duty of care to prevent food poisoning incidents, slips, trips and falls and other accidents on their premises. If someone breaches this duty and you are subsequently made ill by eating contaminated food or injured by slipping, tripping or falling, you may be able to claim for personal injury compensation.
Give us, Accident Advice Helpline a ring from your telephone on 0800 689 0500 from a landline, or on 0333 500 0993 from your mobile, to learn more about public liability claims today.
Date Published: August 1, 2016
Author: Accident Advice