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Household Water Treatment Systems

In most urban areas, water is treated at water treatment facilities before it is distributed to the people who use it. This treatment method is referred to as treatment at the source because contaminants are removed in these facilities before water is distributed.

If water is not treated before it is distributed, it must be treated at the point of use to ensure the quality of the water will not cause illness. One traditional method of treating water widely used worldwide is boiling water to remove contaminants. Water that is brought to a rolling boil for at least one to three minutes (slightly more in mountainous areas) kills most pathogens.

A note of caution is due, however. Boiling water is generally not effective in removing chemical contaminants. In fact, it generally increases their concentration a bit. Boiled water also runs the risk of recontamination during the cooling process if not properly protected and stored. Additionally, boiling water requires a significant amount of fuel, which can exact a toll both financially and environmentally. Despite these limitations, boiling is still a standard treatment when any pathogen is at issue.

Over the last several decades, new and innovative household water treatment systems have been developed by government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector to bring low-tech, low cost, and user-friendly solutions to people who must treat water in their homes.

Some of the most common household treatment systems used in the developing world are chlorination, filtration, solar disinfection, combined filtration/chlorination, and combined flocculation/chlorination.

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