Is UV Purification a Viable Alternative to Chlorine?

If you want safe, clean drinking water, it needs to be free of any pathogens to avoid being affected by waterborne illness. Chlorine is the most common form of disinfectant, widely used by public water systems to kill any disease causing bacteria lurking in the water. While chlorine is effective in killing viruses, bacteria and other potential disease causing microorganisms, it is not always desirable. Chlorine can not only leave an unpleasant taste and odor, but has been linked to some health concerns.  ultraviolet-room-1256214

The Chlorine Concerns: 

When chlorine is used as a water disinfectant, it can react with naturally occurring particles in the water to form THMs. THMs or Trihalomethanes are odorless and tasteless toxins that are classified as disinfectant byproducts and may have a negative impact on human health. According to the EPA, there is evidence that supports a potential association between high level, long term exposure to THMs and increased risk of bladder cancer. There is also a suggested association with rectal and colon cancers. The Environmental Research Foundation also cites studies that link moderate to heavy consumption of chlorinated drinking water in pregnancy to a higher rate of miscarriage and congenital disabilities.  

With these health concerns associated with chlorination, many wonder why we can’t simply stop using chlorine to disinfect our drinking water supplies. Unfortunately, without proper disinfection, the risks of microorganisms far outweigh the potential THM risks. Microorganisms can cause severe illnesses and even death, so we need to ensure that we have an effective method of disinfection.  

Is Ultraviolet the Key? 

Ultraviolet water purification offers an effective method of disinfection without creating any potentially toxic byproducts. UV destroys the illness causing microorganisms, attacking their DNA or genetic core to eliminate the ability to reproduce. A wavelength of 253.7 nanometers can provide exceptionally effective disinfection that is environmentally safe. UV light can eliminate up to 99.99% of any harmful microorganisms without affecting the odor or taste of the water. With this method, there are no water additives, simply reliable disinfection.  

Using UV Disinfection: 

UV systems tend to be very low maintenance. The bulb needs to be replaced approximately once a year, but the energy needed is approximate to a 60 watt light bulb. Unfortunately, UV light can only kill the microorganisms in the water. While this does provide protection against viruses, algae, molds, yeast, bacteria, giardia and cryptosporidium, it cannot remove any other contaminants including those affecting taste or odor. If your water supply has already been chlorinated at a municipal water treatment facility, a UV system cannot remove the traces of chlorine that have created an unpleasant taste and smell. In this scenario, you would need to add a whole house system with a carbon filter to remove any particles or sediment in your water.  

If you have concerns about your water quality, you should contact a fully WQA certified water treatment technician. An experienced professional can assess your water supply and test for levels of contaminants, then guide you through the range of treatment devices and systems that are best suited to your requirements and meet the industry standards.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.

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