Friday, April 29, 2011

Nothing Doing Chlorine!



For us humans, water is the elixir of life. But a glass of tap water can have up to 2000 contaminants. For more than a century we have used CHLORINE, an element of the Halogen family of the Periodic table, as an affordable solution to make tap water fit for drinking.

It all started in 1904 in New Jersey, America. Chlorine was effectively able to decrease water borne diseases like Typhoid, cholera and Dysentery by killing bacteria. This discovery was quickly adapted and the news spread like wild fire across the world including India. Hence Chlorine became the standard disinfection procedure for treatment of Municipal Drinking Water.

Besides drinking water, chlorine is also used to sanitize swimming pools.



Swimming in Chlorinated water is dangerous as Chlorine is absorbed through skin.



The reality is that while helping to fight viruses, bacteria and other organisms, it is a toxic chemical.

In India, water for consumption is disinfected by adding Bleaching Powder, which is Calcium Hypo chloride. This chemical reacts with water liberating free chlorine which acts as a disinfectant. Another chemical used is TCCA, Tirchloroisocyanuric acid which works the same way. While the chlorine liberated disinfects the water for human consumption, the residual and highly reactive element combines with natural organic compounds present in water to form toxins called Trihalomethanes, THMs. These THMs make way into our bodies, and research has shown that they are notorious for MUTAGENIC and CARCINOGENIC properties even in trace amounts like 5-10 ppb (parts per billion). Chlorine content in the body can also cause asthma.



Studies have revealed that serious birth defects like spina bifida or neural tube defects are associated with THMs present in drinking water.

Studies further indicate that pregnant women have higher chances of miscarriage if they drink chlorinated water.

EPA allows up to 4 ppm of chlorine in Municipal tap water.

But the reality is that no strict measures are taken at the Municipal water works where quite often, unchecked quantities of bleaching powder is added into water tanks. We have all seen at some point, a milky white tap water , high in Chlorine with a ghastly taste. This has resulted in the business of Water Purifiers . Every middle class home has a RO system installed to safe guard the interest of their family.

We have top players in the Water Purifier market like the Hema Malini promoted KENT brand, the pioneer Aquaguard from Eureka Forbes and PUREit amongst many others.

All of these claim to be high tech and highly efficient and deliver safe drinking water. The Kent purifier claims that it uses no chemical like Chlorine , Bromine or Iodene. The Aquaguard specifically lists its water purified content to have a max chlorine content of 0.5 ppm and the Pureit claims that it also removes chlorine besides other harmful impurities..

While the urban population can afford high tech Water Purifiers the rural and underprivileged cannot afford and are drinking water high on chlorine which is hazardous to health. So perhaps it is time to look for alternatives for disinfecting water.

Two procedures which are becoming popular in the West are

OZONISATION

UV Irradiation

So, let us all join the crusade against the ill effects of chlorine consumption. Here's to safe consumption of water for every citizen! Its time for all of us to say 'Nothing Doing Chlorine'.

[This post is an entry for the contest ' Crusade Against Chlorine', to create awarene, by Bejon Misra, Consumer activist and founder of Healthy You Foundation. If this post has been an eye opener, then you the reader can also join and spread the message and compel govt to impose strict rules for use of Chlorine.]

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