In order to fully comprehend the effects that chlorine has on our drinking water supply, we first need to understand the chemical itself. Chlorine is required for all forms of life and is therefore found plentifully in nature. At room temperature and pressure, chlorine is a yellowish-green gas that has a strong bleach odour. Common table salt, (-or sodium chloride) and sea salt has elements of chlorine. Ancient societies, dating as far back as 7000 B.C. – used sodium chloride to preserve various types of food. Nowadays, chlorine is primarily used as a decontaminant or as a bleaching agent.
Chlorine is mostly used as a decontaminator for swimming pool water, but it also used to treat approximately 70% of the drinking water in Canada and the US. The Chlorination of water has reduced the number of waterborne infectious diseases, but chlorine doesn’t affect the various parasites that are hazardous to humans. Many municipalities that are currently using chlorine to disinfect their drinking water are now looking for alternatives, like Ozone, as a more affordable means to clean the water.
The global specification for chlorine in drinking water is 4 parts per million (PPM). This concentration of chlorine is required to reduce the spread of bacteria in a water supply. Humans are exposed to chlorine when using treated water in cooking or for drinking. The consumption of water containing more than 4 PPM isn’t healthy. Medical professionals dispute over the connection between high instances of bladder and colon cancer and the long-term consumption of chlorinated water. Certain scientists believe that chlorine alone isn’t the problem. They think the problem result from the combination of chlorine with other organic substances found in some water supplies.
In spite of the health risk assessment conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, there is little-to-none official data on the health risks of consuming chlorinated water. Carbon filters mounted on faucets will remove most chlorine from water used for drinking and cooking. Commercially available pitchers with drop in filters will accomplish the same end. Some folks believe that letting the tap run for a minute-or-so will remove the chlorine, but a more viable solution would be to allow the water to sit for up to 24 hours.
Chlorine is added to drinking water in order to kill microbes that are potentially harmful to people, but it is still a corrosive element and a violent oxidizer. We would be negligent if we weren’t concerned about the long-term effects chlorine has on humans. On the other hand, we still need to keep our water supplies safe from harmful contaminants. Hope might come from ozone (O3) water treatment systems. Hydrogen peroxide, solar radiation, ultraviolet light, and fluoride are other options that are currently being considered for water purification.
This article was provided by food lover and travel enthusiast, ScribeZA, for a water company that supplies water dispensers in London.