Drinking Water Emergencies
The U. S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers tips on emergency disinfection of drinking water using two general methods, boiling and chemical disinfection. Directions for preparing emergency water for drinking, cooking, making any prepared drink or for brushing teeth are included here.
Although many families choose to store bottled or distilled water as an emergency preparedness measure, storing tap water is another option. The Water Quality and Health Council offers tips on how to store tap water, including estimating how much families need and ways to ensure it remains potable while in storage.
Flooding can cause damage to a home that goes beyond what the eye can see. The American Chemistry Council’s Chlorine Chemistry Division notes the importance of cleaning and disinfecting in the wake of flooding to ensure that homes and belongings are safe.
Approximately 15 percent of the US population draws its drinking water from private wells, which unlike public water systems, are not held to EPA water quality standards. That’s why it is important for private well owners to test their water quality at least annually and after significant flooding, and, if needed, take the necessary steps to disinfect.
In February 2004, residents of the Washington, D.C. area learned that high levels of lead were detected in portions of their drinking water supply. Tap water flowing into thousands of homes in the nation’s capital was found to contain lead in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “action level” of 15 parts per billion (ppb).
Drinking Water Chlorination
Developments and advances in chlorine chemistry have shaped the treatment of drinking water in the US for over 100 years. This drinking water chlorination white paper reviews chlorination technologies used to reduce the risks of waterborne diseases; the challenge of disinfection byproducts; chlorine water system security and the future of chlorine disinfection.
A brief history of U.S. drinking water chlorination begins in 1908 in the Union Stockyards of Chicago and shortly after, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Declining disease rates confirm the value of chlorine disinfectants, and in the following decades the technology spreads like wildfire across the nation, to the great benefit of public health.
CDC data are graphed to show how U.S. typhoid fever incident rates plummeted from 1920 through1960, thanks to improvements in drinking water quality, including widespread chlorination.
Starting in 1680 with the development of a primitive microscope, an interactive timeline of historical events leading to the widespread chlorination of drinking water includes Dr. John Snow’s brilliant detective work in ending a London cholera epidemic in 1854, the 1974 U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act and more.
Water Quality & Health Council member Fred M. Reiff, a former official of the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization describes his first-hand observation of a 1991 cholera epidemic in Peru that spread to other Latin American countries. Reiff traces the cause of the outbreak to a misinterpretation of risks associated with disinfection, and warns against the inappropriate use of the Precautionary Principle.
First used in the U.S. in Philadelphia in 1910, municipal wastewater chlorination helps keep rivers and streams healthy, and ultimately improves drinking water quality.
Two mighty superheroes–The Chlorin8tor and Little Hector, The Disinfector–are the stars of a downloadable coloring and activity book created by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council. The duo introduce the germ-busting power of chlorine through The Chlorin8tor’s trusty Electron Grabber tool. Students can color enlarged sketches of water germs and, on the same page, examine actual microphotographs of each germ.