Public drinking water supplies in the United States have been chlorinated since 1908, based on a study published in 1894 that determined that the addition of chlorine to water rendered it “germ free”. Today – over a hundred years later – chlorine has been adopted by the vast majority of municipalities across the country as the standard method of drinking water treatment.
So here are some basic facts about chlorine and the water in your home.
How does chlorine treat the presence of microbiological contaminants in water?
Chlorine is highly reactive and highly toxic to living organisms. The presence of chlorine in water supplies affects microorganisms by weakening or destroying their cellular membranes, either destroying them outright or rendering them incapable of reproducing.
Germs like E.coli will typically be destroyed in less than a minute of exposure to chlorine in water; the Hepatitis A virus will be destroyed in less than 15 minutes of exposure; and the Giardia protozoan will be destroyed in less than 45 minutes of exposure. On the other hand, certain microorganisms can be more resistant to the effects of chlorine; the Cryptosporidium protozoan may be destroyed in a bit over 10 days of chlorine exposure, or it may survive entirely.
The presence of residual chlorine in water also reduces the chances of microbial regrowth; in other words, adding the chlorine destroys many microorganisms, and its continued presence prevents other microorganisms from growing in the water.
Is chlorine in drinking water safe?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), allowable chlorine levels of up to four parts per billion (4 ppb) pose no known or expected health risks.
So why should I treat chlorine in my water?
The most common reason for treating chlorine in drinking water is that it changes the taste and smell of the water. Think of the last time you visited a swimming pool, and remember the very obvious and distinct smell (and taste, if you accidentally swallow some) of the pool water. That is the result of the chlorine added to the pool water to prevent the growth of microorganisms. And although swimming pools use vastly greater amounts of chlorine than drinking water, the fact remains that chlorine does negatively affect the aesthetics of drinking water.
Another reason to treat the chlorine in water is that chlorine itself is a powerful oxidizing agent. It reacts strongly and negatively with other organisms and materials, which is why it is used to destroy microorganisms in the water. But that means that it will also react with your food, your clothing, your skin, and your hair. The presence of chlorine in water can damage skin, fade colored hair, or fade colors in clothing – remember, the primary cleaning agent in laundry bleach is chlorine.
And the most dangerous possible side effect of chlorine in water is that it can react with other compounds or contaminants in the water to create disinfection byproducts (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs) or haloacetic acids (HAAs), many of which are known carcinogens!
So how does Multipure fit in with this information?
Fortunately, all of Multipure’s Drinking Water Systems (DWS) and Home Essentials products are designed to treat the chlorine in your water. In fact, almost all of our Drinking Water Systems are NSF-certified to reduce the presence of chlorine in drinking water under NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (Aesthetic Effects), and many of our systems are NSF-certified to reduce the presence of DBPs under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (Health Effects).
Furthermore, our entire line of Home Essentials products, from our whole-house Aquasource, to our Aquashower and Aquasplash in the bathroom, and to our Aquagrow in the yard, will reduce the presence of chlorine in your water.
Where can I get additional information about water chlorination?
For a good overview of water chlorination, please visit https://chlorine.americanchemistry.com/Chlorine/DrinkingWaterFAQ/.
For a more detailed examination of water chlorination, please visit https://www.safewater.org/fact-sheets-1/2017/1/23/what-is-chlorination.