There are many ways to purify water in your own home and know that your water is the best it can be. The very best approach however is what is known as the “multi-barrier” approach. This approach to obtaining clean water assures high water quality from source to consumption. The multi-barrier approach to household water treatment and safe storage (known as HWTS) alleviates sources of contamination that we may not normally think of. If you question the purity of the water you are drinking, you may want to follow this process and not just rely on a single technology like filters. Household water treatment and storage includes steps to protect the source of the water you drink, clarification of the water (cloudiness) filtration of dangerous pathogens.
Water Source Protection
For the most part, our source of drinking water here in the United States, is our own water faucet. We have come to believe and rely upon our municipalities to serve up clean, healthy drinking water.
This may not always be the case, however. We do not usually experience biological contamination like they do in Mexico, Africa, or many other places in the world. We can, however, have chemical pollutants in our water like pesticides, arsenic and selenium, just to name a few.
For most biological contaminants, a filter that traps these undesirable creatures does so by excluding them. These types of filters use of small openings that the water can pass through but the pathogens get caught in.
Chemical filtering is best accomplished through the use of charcoal filters. Charcoal chemically bonds to the chemical impurities in our water and holds on to them so they don’t end up in our drinking glass. Charcoal filters become saturated at some point and must be changed periodically.
Sometimes the water we get from the faucet is cloudy or may have some particle of sand or iron in it. We call this cloudiness “turbidity”. Sedimentation process used to reduce the turbidity of the water.
Turbidity in water presents surface area for pathogens to cling to, so turbid water may have more pathogens than clear water. So it is a good idea, if your water is turbid, to let those particles settle out before drinking.
Filtration methods are probably the most familiar way that we use to clean water in our own homes. Filtration is a physical process which involves passing water through micro-openings in a filter media. Ceramic filters and, as mentioned above, carbon filters are probably the most common types of household filters. There are a myriad of filter manufacturers that are used by households in the U.S
The next step in household water treatment is less common in America than in other places, but in truth, it is very important. There is always a chance that some type of pathogen or chemical will make it through your city’s water treatment plant.
Municipalities anticipate this and add chlorine to the water supply to kill off whatever might be left over. Chlorine disinfection is very common, but did you know that just exposing water to sunlight for a period of time will kill almost everything in it?
When municipalities experience some kind of disaster that knocks out their water treatment plant, they often recommend boiling water. This is another effective disinfection method.
Safe Water Storage
Finally, American cities and households do a lot of work to collect, transport and treat their drinking water. Now that the water is safe to drink, it should be handled and stored properly to keep it safe. If it’s not stored safely, the treated water quality could become worse than the source water and may cause people to get sick.
Safe storage means keeping your treated water away from sources of contamination, and using a clean and covered container. It also means drinking water from the container in a way so that people don’t make each other sick.
The container should prevent hands and cups, and such, from touching the water that is now clean, so that the water doesn’t get contaminated again.
For more information on Household Water Treatment and Storage, both in America and abroad, see A Layman’s Guide to Clean Water at http://www.clean-water-for-laymen.com/
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