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History of water disinfection

History of drinking water disinfection
The link between water quality and health has been known since the early ages. Clear water was considered clean water. Swamp areas were associated with fever.
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 than dipping a piece of copper in the water seven times, before filtering the water. Descriptions of ancient civilisations were found about boiling water and water storage in silver jugs. To realize water purification copper, silver and electrolysis were applied.

Disinfection has been applied for several decades. However, the mechanism has been known for only one hundred years.
In 1680 Anthony van Leeuwenhoek developed the microscope. His discovery of microorganisms was considered a curiosity. It took scientists another two hundred years before they started using the microscope to distinguish microorganisms and other pathogens.
The first multiple filter was developed in 1685 by the Italian physician Lu Antonio Porzo. The filter consisted of a settling unit and a sandfiltration unit. In 1746 the French scientist Joseph Amy received the first patent for a filter design, which was applied in households by 1750. The filters consisted of wool, sponges and charcoal.

Figure 1: John Snow Figure 2: contaminated water pump spreads cholera

For the past centuries humans have suffered from diseases such as cholera and the plague. The origin of these diseases was misinterpreted. It was said that the diseases were a devine punishment or were caused by impure air or the alignment of the planets.
In 1854 a cholera epidemic caused many deaths in the city of Londen. John Snow, an English doctor (figure 1), discovered that the cholera epidemic was caused by a contaminated water pump (figure 2). He prevented a spread of the epidemic by closing down the contaminated water pump. After that scientists have performed bacteriological studies to research the development, existence and identification of microorganisms and the removal of microorganisms from drinking water.

In the nineteenth century the effect of disinfectants, such as chlorine, was discovered. Since 1900 disinfectants are largely applied by drinking water companies to prevent the distribution of diseases and to improve water quality.



More information on water disinfection?:

Introduction water disinfection Necessity water treatment History of drinking water treatment

What is water disinfection? Necessity of drinking water disinfection History of water disinfection Waterborne diseases Factors that influence disinfection Conditions of water disinfection Regulation drinking water disinfection EU USA

Swimming pool treatment Swimming pool pollutions Swimming pool disinfection Swimming pool disinfection & health

Cooling tower water Cooling tower water pollutions Cooling tower water disinfection Cooling tower water legislation

Chemical disinfectants Chlorine Sodium hypochlorite Chloramines Chlorine dioxide Copper silver ionization Hydrogen peroxide Bromine Peroxone Peracetic acid

Disinfection byproducts Types of disinfection byproducts Research on health effects of disinfection byproducts

Chlorinator system







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