Drinking Water Disinfection – A History and Improved Monitoring Techniques
By Randy Turner, Technical Director, Chemist, Swan Analytical USA
In many countries we take for granted the availability and reliability of safe drinking water. A recent trip outside of the US reminded me of this fact when I saw notices in the hotel rooms stating the drinking water met specific standards and was safe to drink however, my friends from the country emphatically warned me to not drink the water.
The relationship between clean drinking water and health has been known for centuries. Clear water was considered to be clean water and swamp water was associated with fever and disease.
Disinfection has been applied for centuries, two basic rules dating back to 2000 B.C. state that water must be exposed to sunlight and filtered with charcoal and that impure water must be purified by boiling the water and then dipping a piece of copper in the water seven times, before filtering the water. Records of ancient civilizations boiling water and storing water in silver jugs were found. Water purification was performed with copper, silver, and electrolysis.