Chlorine andWater Treatment
Chlorine is not a contaminant, it is a disinfectant added to public water supplies to kill bacteria and viruses. It was discovered by Swedish chemist Karl Wilhelm Scheele in 1774 and was first used as a disinfectant during the London Cholera outbreak of 1850. Cholera spreads through feces coming in contact with water, so without proper waste management systems, it can multiply very quickly. Within a week, over 500 people in London died. So when the outbreak began to clear up after London started chlorinating, it was considered the start of many dramatic improvements in water treatment along with public health.
By the early 1900's, water treatment facilities in the U.S. were chlorinating tap water to kill harmful bacteria and viruses.
By the early 1900s water treatment facilities in the U.S. were chlorinating tap water to kill bacteria and viruses. However, to this day Chlorine can leave a bad taste and smell in the water, making it unpleasant to drink.
Disinfection By-products In Drinking Water
Even though Chlorine remains the most widely used chemical for water disinfection in the United States, chlorinating drinking water creates issues of its own.
When Chlorine reacts with inorganic and naturally occurring organic materials in raw water supplies such as grass, leaves, wood, and moss, it produces a variety of disinfection by-products such as Trihalomethanes. When ingested above regulated levels over time, TTHMs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems.
When ingested above regulated levels over time, TTHMs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems.
The amount of TTHMs in water can be reduced by removing as much organic matter as possible before starting the chlorination process – however, as chlorinated water travels from the water treatment facilities, it can continue to come in contact with dissolved or suspended organic matter.