An evaluation of chlorine as a disinfectant for potable water supplies in the United States : weighing the human health risks Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9g54xn351

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  • The removal of microbial populations from potable water has been a practice with great importance towards public health, as it has resulted in the reduction of literally millions of cases of infectious disease. In the United States, pathogenic organisms are most commonly removed from drinking water through the application of chlorine. Ninety-nine per cent of all U.S. potable water treatment facilities that disinfect, rely on chlorine as their sole or primary disinfectant, and over 175,000,000 Americans regularly consume chlorinated water. In 1974, Rook and Bellar et al. published studies which indicated that chlorine reacted with organic matter in water during treatment to produce a wide-range of halogenated by-products. Since that time, numerous analyses have been performed to isolate and identify the by-products of chlorination. Toxicologic and epidemiologic studies have been performed, some of which suggest that the use of chlorine as a disinfectant may be contributing to the incidence of chronic disease in the United States. Because of the concern that the use of chlorine for potable water disinfection may be contributing to chronic disease, Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) have been promulgated which strictly regulate disinfectants and disinfection by-products. Future disinfectant and disinfectant by-product regulations (1992) will have a major impact on the purveyors of potable water in the U.S.. Probably the largest challenge U.S. water treatment utilities now face is in the attempt to control for disinfectants and disinfectant by-products while maintaining the microbiological integrity of the water supply. The SDWA Amendments and their supporting regulations will result in major changes in the way water quality parameters are measured, and the way disinfection and treatment strategies are practiced. This thesis looks closely at the role of chlorine as a disinfectant, the by-products arising from chlorine reacting with organic matter, as well as the rationale behind the disinfectant and disinfectant by-product regulations. After examining the chemical, toxicologic and epidemiologic evidence which fueled the new SDWA regulations, available treatment strategies for meeting the new regulations will be detailed and examined. A water treatment strategy which best appears to maximize the reduction of waterborne disease and minimize the risk of chronic disease will then be offered.
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