There are many different things you can look to for demonstration that the U.S. public experience a real dissatisfaction with the quality of municipal water. The problem is ubiquitousbutvaries quite a lot from place to place.Generally speaking, though, the problem is that municipal water very often contains contaminants which either effect the smell and taste of the water or make it dangerous to consume over a prolonged period.
The latter of these two potential problems is naturally the more severe, and it is indeed consumer interest in better quality water that has driven the production of alternative water products such as purified or filtered water.
Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, the water used by Americans for cooking, washing, and drinking is ultimately the responsibility of municipal water authorities. These organizations don’t always (or intentionally) provide substandard water; indeed, they very often seek to correct the effects of substandard water. There are legal standards for water in the U.S., and when water supplies don’t meet the mark, water utilities will often treat the water with chlorine. There is good reason for doing this, but the process raises all sorts of concerns too.
Why Water Supplies Are Treated with Chlorine
Many water sources and systems are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. While extensive filtration processes can effectively remove larger particles and organic material from water supplies, the water needs to be chemically treated as well – sometimes with chlorine. The reason for this is that there are many potentially harmful microbes which cannot be filtered out of water in the traditional way – they are just too small –and so actively killing them with chlorine is the best means of eradicating them.
Treatment with chlorine though is usually done on anoccasional basis. This means that the level of chlorine found in tap water can vary over time. Sometimes chlorine levels can spike. At such times, it is not uncommon for tap water to acquire a smell rather like a swimming pool. Synergy Science, a company specializing in alternative water products,say that this phenomenon is undoubtedly one of the factors that drives interest in their products.
What is Free Chlorination?
Occasionally, the process of free chlorination is carried out, which is an even more intense flushing out of the water system using chlorine as a disinfectant. This is the type of event the public are always notified of, and it is primarily used for the cleanliness of the pipes through which the water travels. When free chlorination is carried out though, the dangers of excessive chlorine in drinking water are more pronounced.
Benefits and Dangers of Chlorination
So, how wary should we be of chlorine, considering that it is often present in municipal water system?
It’s important to stress the advantages: chlorination is the most effective means of killing off microbes and thereby reducing the incidences of waterborne diseases. Used in the correct amount, it is also not imminently harmful to human health.Rather, the concerns revolve around long term exposure to chlorine.
Furthermore, this is where the downsides arise. By drinking chlorinated water, you are not only exposed to chlorine, but also the many byproducts that it creates when it reacts with substances in the water. Haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes, in particular, have been linked to serious conditions such as miscarriages and kidney and liver problems. There is also just the simple risk that your water will end up tasting funny.
Whatever your concerns about the quality of your water, you should always pay attention to public water chlorination and look out for the occasional free chlorination periods when the risk can be higher.