Chlorinated water: Know about the benefits and risks

The National Disaster Managment Authority (NDMA) recommends consuming boiled or chlorinated water to prevent water-related illnesses. In a Twitter thread, NDMA mentioned that according to the Health Department, chlorination can be considered as an alternative to boiling water, albeit with riders.

“Chlorination is a purification technique for safe drinking water. It is recommended by the Department of Health amidst possible contamination during calamities,” the post read.

Chlorination means adding chlorine to drinking water in order to kill parasites, bacteria, and viruses that cause illnesses. “Chlorination is the most common type of drinking water disinfection done to avoid waterborne diseases (like cholera, typhoid, and dysentery) and the mortality caused due to them,” explained Dr Vikrant Shah, consulting physician, intensivist, and infection disease specialist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital Chembur.

Here’s how to purify water with chlorination, according to NDMA

*Filter out large impurities using a clean piece of cloth or a coffee filter. Ensure the container is clean.
*Chrolinate by adding two drops of unscented bleach for every litre of water. Use five per cent chlorine solution.
*Smell the water after one hour. A faint chlorine smell should indicate success.

However, Dr Shah stresses that while chlorination is one of the most common disinfectant practices with levels up to four milligrams per liter (mg/L or 4 parts per million (ppm)) considered safe in drinking water, it is best to limit its use for better health.

“Chlorine contains toxins, such as trihalomethanes (THMs) that can lead to asthma, bladder cancer, and heart disease. Even if chlorine levels in drinking water are found to be safe, the chlorine can cause a bad taste or smell discouraging you from drinking that water. It is best to take the help of an expert and only add the permissible limit of chlorine to drinking water under unusual circumstances like calamities. Unmonitored use of chlorine, when it comes to drinking water, is not recommended at all,” he said.

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