Chlorine: Safe Drinking Water

1385 Words 6 Pages
STAGE 2 Chemistry
Assessment Type 1: investigation Folio
Student Response: Issues Investigation


Chlorine is considered to be the single largest contributor to safe drinking water in the history of public health. In 1902 the first chlorine disinfection system was installed in Belgium. By the 1920’s nearly the whole world started using the process. Due to this disinfection process many disease-causing microorganisms were abolished. According to Life Magazine (1997) “The filtration of drinking water plus the use of chlorine is probably the most significant public health advancement of the millennium” As consumers have started to gain an increased knowledge of the health effects of chlorination, greater requirements and expectations
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Chlorine produces a by-product group called trihalomethane and chloroform. Other by-products produced during the disinfection process are bromodichloromethane, chlorodibromethane, bromoform and etc. When these by-products were tested on lab animals many showed carcinogenic signs. In 1996-2001 more than 16 million American consumed dangerous amounts of contaminated tap water. Research found that trihalomethanes have been linked to a wide range of health illnesses ranging from asthma, eczema to bladder cancer and heart diseases. Shockingly in 2002 a Norwegian study found that, “5 glasses of chlorinated tap water per day increases the risk of miscarriage by 14%”. Chlorination of tap water has been discontinued in many European communities due to these concerns. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations have called for a ban on chlorine and the products made using it. They recommend using alternatives such as Ozone and …show more content…
Worldwide chlorine is still the most used disinfectant; its ability to kill harmful microorganisms is more than enough for some. Although some by-products are formed many people believe the evidence for carcinogenic risks due to chlorination is not strong enough for the process to be completely eliminated. Many studies have failed to demonstrate any conclusive link between THMs and the health effects, while over whelming evidence exists to indicate the effectiveness of chlorine in destroying pathogens in water. There are a few major advantages of using chlorination. In cost comparison elemental chlorine costs around $2million to use while other alternatives such as bleaches cost around $30 million. Using non-chlorine based alternatives are even more expensive as they have extremely high operating costs as more back up is needed. Using chlorine is also relatively easy to handle in dosage and measuring. Using other alternatives is far more complex and requires greater use of chemicals and energy. This would therefore contribute to other environmental issues such as greenhouse

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