We Need a New Method of Purifying Drinking Water Essay

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Chlorine has been purifying our drinking water for the last century. Chlorine has many uses; it is used as an amazing water disinfectant to rid water of harmful organisms, it sanitizes many surfaces, and it is used in the production of many products. Virtually all water borne diseases have been wiped out as a result of purification of drinking water - usually with chlorine. Life expectancy has increased fifty percent in the last century because people are able to drink clean, healthy water. Two hundred million people in America and Canada drink, shower and swim in chlorinated water everyday, and ninety-eight percent of drinking water treatment facilities use chlorination (Christman, 1998). Chlorine has benefited society in an…show more content…
Finally, those who take the economic approach believe that chlorine might have some effect, yet the expenditure of money and time to develop alternatives for all of chlorine’s uses make it hard to eliminate it from our society.

Studies have shown that it is not the chlorine that causes damage to our health, but rather chlorine’s byproducts. Dioxins, which are an unwanted byproduct of industrial production that uses chlorine, are the most harmful human carcinogens studied (Thornton, 1997). When chlorine is added to our water supply, it immediately kills many to all of the organisms living in the water. However, it also reacts with any organic material in the water such as leaves, twigs, or dirt chemically producing byproducts called trihalomethanes, or THMs. THMs consist of four chemicals: chloroform, bromoform, bromodichloromethane and dibromochloromethane. Dibromochloromethane is already classified as a possible known human carcinogen and has been proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals (Times Union, 1996).

The US Council of Environmental Quality states that, "[t]he cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine" (Showering in Tap Water, 2001). Organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, as well as many doctors and scientists, are publicly
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