It is no secret that tap water is treated before it reaches household faucets and water tanks. One of those methods is via Chlorination, which has been a popular method of water disinfection, used for many years. It does not include drawbacks but there have been many concerns about it over the course of its use. Here, we will learn all about chlorination and what it means for your drinking water.
What is Chlorination?
Chlorination is one of the methods used to disinfect water. It is a chemical disinfection method that makes use of different types of chlorine or chlorine-containing substances for the disinfection and oxidation of the potable water source, making it safe for consumption. This is all an effort to combat waterborne diseases to inactivate the pathogens present in raw water from rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Not all microorganisms are harmful to humans, some are still disease-carrying which can pose a risk. These are referred to as pathogens and they can be carried over through a drinking water distribution system.
Chlorine can effectively eliminate a variety of waterborne pathogens including disease carrying ones such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and Legionnaires’ disease. It has been widely regarded as one of the most important public health advances of the millennium.
This process was discovered in 1744 in Sweden, with people believing the odours from the water the culprit for diseases. Chlorination was used to combat this but it was only until 1835 that chlorine was discovered as an effective tool for water disinfection. That new discovery led Great Britain to adapt the process followed by the United States in 1908 and Canada in 1917. Diseases spread through contaminated water such as typhoid fever has been virtually eliminated, and since then it has become a widely popular method of disinfection in North America and other parts of the world.
Why we use Chlorination
One advantage of chlorination is that it is good against bacteria and viruses. Its drawback is that it cannot inactive all microbes present as some protozoan cysts are resistant to its effects. In areas where protozoan cysts do not serve as a problem, chlorination is a good tool as it is both effective yet inexpensive in its treatment of water. Chlorination as a process is also fairly easy to implement as compared to the other water treatment methods. In emergency situations such as a filter breakdown or the mixing of raw and treated water, it is able to eliminate a lot of pathogens quickly.
There have been other methods of disinfection such as ozone and ultraviolet light but they lack the protection of water once it reaches the distribution pipes, and in these cases chlorine is once again used in the second disinfection to keep the water safe. Secondary disinfection is important because when water enters damaged pipes, the water can be contaminated. This serves as a form of continued protection to make sure other contaminants do not manifest back in the treated water, and chlorine disinfectants work as good protection.
Debunking Chlorine Myths
Chlorine the element itself is known to be a toxic substance for living organisms. However, in drinking water treatment, the concentration for chlorine is low enough in exposure to pose any serious threat. There have been concerns about chlorinated water being a case for increased risk due to the carcinogens but Health Canada’s Laboratory Centre for Disease Control says that its benefits outweigh its risks.
Health Canada further reports that there is no harm to residents who drink water with large concentrations of chlorine (50 mg/L) in short periods. Most Canadians do not experience a chlorine level higher than 2 mg/L in their tap water. In the US, the amount should also not exceed 4 mg/L or up to four parts per million to make safe drinking water as prescribed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
All in all, chlorination serves as an effective treatment in making tap water safe for consumption.
Chlorine Taste & Odour
However, residual chlorine does leave a ‘chemical’ odour and taste in tap water that’s off-putting to many. Furthermore, it does nothing to remove microplastics that have now found its way to our food chain, including tap and bottled water.
For issues like these that water chlorination cannot address, the IVO Faucet-mounted Water Purifier is an ultra-efficient yet affordable solution. It has an advanced 4-stage filtration process that effectively removes rust, sediments, residual chlorine, and thanks to its medical-grade hollow fiber membrane, other microscopic impurities and microorganisms as little as 0.1 micron – such as bacteria, microplastics and even sub-microplastics!