Superheroes Know the Secret to Safe Drinking Water
Citizens who are blessed with plentiful, safe, healthy drinking water often take it for granted. But when it is suddenly gone due to a dastardly villain’s devious plot (or simply a temporarily contaminated tap water issue), its value quickly becomes apparent. Common, everyday folks who know how to create or obtain potable water become instant superheroes.
Having resources available to help yourself and others is heroic when potentially life-threatening illnesses (with symptoms that can include dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, cramps and stomach aches and pains) result from drinking untreated water. Diabolical diseases like cholera, E. coli, dysentery and giardia are speedily defeated when they come up against these anti-contamination weapons.
The CDC picks bottled water as its champion but warns citizens to double check expiration dates and boil or treat water from bottles that have been opened and refilled, as the water might not be trustworthy anymore. When bottled water isn’t available, the following water treatment options can be lifesavers.
Bring it to a boil
This method is the best way to make water great again. Boiling water for one minute (or for three minutes at elevations above 5,000 feet) kills disease-causing microorganisms. For best results with all water treatments, start with clear water. Strain cloudy water through a piece of cloth, coffee filter or other material to remove dirt and sediments.
A little goes a long way with this method. Use only eight drops of unscented household bleach per gallon of clear water to fight villainous parasites. Be aware that bleach has a short shelf life and loses its potency so watch expiration dates. Running the treated water through a charcoal carbon filter helps remove the chlorine taste.
This treatment is about as helpful as a second-rate sidekick. Iodine isn’t effective against the villain cryptosporidium and water treated with iodine shouldn’t be consumed for more than a few weeks at a time. It’s also not good for pregnant women. But iodine tablets can be effective in the purification fight when used as directed on the package label.
Most filters don’t remove bacteria or viruses, so this method needs additional muscle to make water more potable. And the filter that is used should have fine enough pore sizes to remove parasites and sediments. Pre-straining water to remove dirt and debris before running it through the filter will help the filter last longer.
Radiation is used for good and not evil with this method. When contaminated water is exposed to ultraviolet light, it kills the microorganism’s DNA. This method doesn’t eliminate other impurities like chlorine, metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), though. Using a glass or clear plastic container filled with clear water and exposing it to direct sunlight for at least six hours is a more basic but effective version of this disinfection process.
Thanks to Encompass Health in Houston for Their Guest Post This Week