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Household Chlorine Disinfection

Chlorine is a disinfecting agent that when added to water kills harmful bacteria, Giardia, and most viruses. A complete household chlorination system includes a bottled chlorine solution and a safe storage container.

Implementation: The user adds sodium hypochlorite solution from a bottle to unsafe water. The amount of solution is based on the turbidity of the water. The user is instructed to wait 30 minutes before drinking the water. Water is then stored for later use in a clean, sealed container to prevent re-contamination.

What this treats: Used at the appropriate concentration and for the recommended amount of time, chlorine inactivates bacteria, Giardia, and most viruses.

Benefits:
Proven reduction of bacteria, Giardia, and most viruses
Provides residual protection against contamination
Can easily be scaled up or down for greater or lesser water demands

Drawbacks:
Has relatively low protection against Cryptosporidium.
Has lower effectiveness in water contaminated with organic and certain inorganic compounds, particularly ammonia.
Leaves taste and odor that some users find objectionable
Concerns about slight long-term carcinogenic effects.

Spotlight on use: Zambia
It is estimated that only 64 percent of Zambians have access to safe water sources. In some poor areas, families rely on shallow, contaminated wells for water. As a result, incidents of diarrhea are widespread in Zambia, and diarrheal illnesses are the leading cause of death among children.

In the late 1990s, a new household chlorination system was introduced in Zambia. This product can treat up to 1,000 liters of water and costs about 60 times less than the equivalent amount of charcoal needed to treat this volume of water. This system has helped to significantly reduce the incidents of diarrhea and is currently used in an estimated two million households.

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