# What needs to be changed in the structure of the human body to drink dirty water?

My question is: what needs to be changed in the body of my genetically modified people so that they can safely drink toxic water ( most often industrial wastewater is contaminated with industrial waste, which may contain such harmful and toxic substances as ammonium nitrogen in wastewater, prussic acid, lead salts, mercury and copper, phenols and aniline ). It would also be convenient for them to drink sea (salt ) water. For example, sheep can use natural mineralized (salty) water.

In other words, I need to create a filter system in my body.

Our liver and kidneys make already a pretty good job at allowing us drinking non pure water.

Coffee, tea, sodas, liquors, are basically water based solutions with "pollutants" in them: caffeine, alcohol and other substances. They are all processed by our liver and kidneys and expelled from our body.

The twist is simply to improve kidneys and liver to be able to neutralize and excrete more substances.

• This, in theory, will work for pollutants like heavy metals, but not for outright poisons like cyanide. Liver and kidneys are "downstream" in food processing. They split pollutants like alcohol only after it enters bloodstream. For cyanide, we shouldn't allow it to enter bloodstream in the first place. – Alexander Feb 18 at 17:30
• what needs to be changed in the structure of the body in order not to be poisoned by poisons such as cyanide and arsenic? ( if we have something to drink or eat ) – user71408 Feb 21 at 12:41

To drink seawater you can:

• Give them salt glands like various seabirds and marine reptiles have got. We already produce salty tears, so the human tear duct could be adapted for this. The downside is your people will look as if they are crying (or have an eye infection oozing salty liquid) even when they are not.
• Make their kidneys more efficient at extracting salt from the blood and concentrating it in their urine. Sealions have very salty urine, but they don't really drink seawater - they get the salt from the fish they eat and the little bit of seawater accidentally swallowed when they swallow the fish. This paper says that the one mammal which does drink sea water is the sea otter.

The other things you list are very diverse. Solutions for one may be useless for another. For instance, the advice on avoiding mercury poisoning seems to be: don't eat/drink things which are contaminated by mercury in the first place! :-) Efficient kidneys or salt glands won't really work for mercury.

• « Solutions for one may be useless for another. » I can create a multi-layer filtering system. Do you know any ways to filter these poisons ( even separately )? – user71408 Feb 18 at 17:34
• @FrenchThompson - I don't know enough about how many of them act on the body. Mercury doesn't get filtered because biology doesn't seem to know what to do with it! :-) Some plants are used to extract heavy metals from soil (phytoextraction). Maybe symbiotic algae in the skin could do that??? – DrBob Feb 18 at 17:54

Baleen-like reverse desalinator made from teeth.

Baleen is a series of keratin screens in the mouth of whales. They take in a mouthful of water + stuff then use pressure to expel the water through the baleen screen. Water moves thru but particles (including very small particles of krill) are retains, which the whale then licks off the inside of the screen.

Reverse osmosis is a method of water purification in which water is pressurized against a filter that has pores small enough to admit passage of water molecules but nothing larger. Completely pure water emerges through the filter with wastes being concentrated in the water remaining on the pressurized side, and later discarded. Reverse osmosis filters need to be able to withstand pressure. They are often ceramic and look like porcelain.

Your GMO people contain water in their mouth - maybe anterior to the teeth, and generate powerful suction, pulling the water against the teeth. The teeth are modified to be porous in the way of a RO filter. The water they pull thru is pure. Water remaining anterior to the teeth has concentrated pollutants, and is expectorated.

Drinking like this takes some time because it must be sip by sip. You people entertain themselves by competing to see who can spit the toxin-laden water farther. Some of them are genetically engineered to have far spitting abilities as well.

• How it would anatomically look like? Will this interfere with eating food? ( is it possible for example to bend these whiskers to the top of the palate (above the tongue ) and when using it, lower it ) – user71408 Feb 18 at 16:29
• With the strongest pull in the world, you'll never get more suction than full vacuum: -1 atm bar. RO units typically need 60 to 120 bar. – Tim Feb 18 at 19:36
• what? tell more – user71408 Feb 18 at 19:41
• @Tim - yes, yes, too true, too true. I guess it would have to be pressure, not suction. Muscular lips press the water against the teeth. That is how these people are different - super muscular lips. – Willk Feb 18 at 19:42
• @FrenchThompson: Vacuum is space devoid of matter. "pressure" can therefore not be less than vacuum. Our atmospheric pressure is around 1 Atmosphere (unit) and an ideal vacuum is 0 atmosphere. A bar is close to an atmosphere and RO units need a lot of them :). So vacuum is out of the question. – Tim Feb 19 at 10:21

The skin can work as a membrane. Instead of drinking water, this skin is capable of absorbing water molecules and vital minerals. It is evolved to keep harmful substances out. Much as the kidneys and livers can "distinguish" what should not remain in the body, the skin knows what should not enter the body.

Humans already have the "infrastructure" to release water through the skin, by means of sweat. Absorption, into the blood stream is rather limited, though. This might be where your humans will be genetically improved.