Chlorine is added to drinking water, as a disinfectant, to get rid of harmful bacteria, which are usually present in areas from where the water is obtained. The controversy of this issue is that chlorination can work as an advantage or as a disadvantage to those consuming it. Chlorine is currently the most effective water treatment when compared with other alternatives. However, it also reacts with natural organic compounds present in the water to produce harmful chemicals that on a long-term basis are very dangerous.
The most well known adverse effects of contaminated water is shown in the Walkerton crisis in May 2000, where an outbreak of E.Coli contamination occurred in the water system of Walkerton, Ontario. Seven people died, and a further 2300 fell ill after consuming water that was contaminated by farm manure (Walkerton Report, CBC 2008). This could have been prevented if proper chlorination had taken place. Examples of contaminants that chlorine eliminates are microbes such as E.Coli, Salmonella typhi and Shigella. E.Coli grows when the water is contaminated with human and animal waste products. Upon consuming E.Coli contaminated water, an individual suffers from diarrhea, cramps, nausea, renal failure and sometimes even death. Consuming water contaminated with Salmonella typhi causes typhoid fever. Shigella causes severe abdominal cramping with blood and mucus in the stool. Chlorine’s major advantage is that the water remains disinfected until it reaches the point of consuming, unlike other disinfectants such as ozone or ultraviolet light. Chlorine not only purifies water, it also prevents bacterial growth, nitrogenous contaminants and such from growing in water pipes and storage tanks. It also gets rid of odors, unpleasant taste and organisms known as nuisance organisms. Slime bacteria, iron and sulfate reducing bacteria give the water a very unpleasant look and smell. These bacteria do not cause disease but chlorination gets rid of these...
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