Water purification is essential to the quality of life. As pollution, viruses, bacteria, and other harmful materials circulate through the air and ground; water can easily become contaminated. Unclean water is a source of germs and bacteria that can pose devastating health effects on humans, animals, and plant life. Contaminated water is a breeding ground for disease that can cause illness on a widespread level, resulting in outbreaks that have the potential to eradicate life. Water purification consists of proven methods that destroy harmful germs and bacteria, thereby preventing outbreaks of illness caused by toxins. There are many methods of water purification available, including those that are performed on a large scale, such as when purifying a city's drinking water supply, as well as steps an individual may perform on an emergency basis. As drinking water that hasn't been correctly purified can lead to sickness, illness, and, in some cases, death, using proper water purification methods is invaluable to health.

Studies have confirmed the importance of purifying water before drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, or bathing. From widespread illness and disease to outbreaks of viral sickness due to contaminated water, evidence clearly shows that having access to purified water is a direct contributor to a person's quality of life. Waterborne illnesses and diseases include but are not limited to cholera, malaria, dysentery, and amoebiasis. Bathing can prove dangerous, as amoebas, bacteria, and other toxins may enter the skin through any open cuts or wounds. Brushing teeth is also a harmful way to bring contaminants directly into the blood stream. The only proven method to eradicate these diseases from any water supply is through water purification. The global need for purified drinking water is an uncontested fact.

Multiple methods exist for water purification. Some of the most popular methods include distillation, ultraviolet light, boiling water, adding chemicals such as chlorine, bromine, or iodine, filtration through the use of sand, diatomaceous earth or reverse osmosis, and oxidation methods such as aeration and oxygen generation. Distillation involves separating contaminants in the water through the use of light or heat or with the force of gravity. Heat is also an effective way to kill bacteria, toxins, and other organisms, and it's something that most citizens can easily use. Simply by boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, an individual may kill up to 99.9% of all organisms. This is why when a public drinking water supply becomes contaminated, "boil water" advisories are issued for water used for drinking, cooking, or brushing teeth. Sometimes, a "do not use" advisory may be issued: Other times, users will be advised to add chlorine bleach to water in order to kill harmful germs and purify it. Packets of chlorine or bleach in powdered form are a popular addition to emergency kits used by rescue teams, hikers, or anyone who fears they may find themselves in a situation where they need to purify water quickly. Access to purified water is a necessary essential for plant, animal, and human life.

You may learn more about water purification and its methods in the links below.

  • Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips for those who need to purify water quickly and effectively and include sections on using heat to purify water.

  • Emergency Water Purification: Learn the steps to take to clean and disinfect drinking water through the use of heat in this document from Louisiana State University.

  • Water on Tap: What You Need to Know: The Environmental Protection Agency provides resources that explain the steps of water purification, including filtration, and helps consumers understand safety issues regarding their own drinking water in this PDF.

  • Methods of Water Purification: Osmonics discusses the process of water purification and filtration in this excerpt from the "Pure Water Handbook."

  • The Pollution and Purification of Water: These lecture notes from Bridgewater State University examine the process of water purification using aeration and oxidation in PDF format.

  • Treating the Public Water Supply: What is in your water, and how is it made safe to drink? This report from the Washington University in St. Louis takes a close look at the various methods, such as oxidation, used in water purification.

  • Understanding Home Water Treatment Systems: The University of Missouri Extension takes a close look at the importance of water purification within the home and discusses different techniques used to obtain clean, purified water, such as reverse osmosis.

  • Pure Water Handbook: Learn about the methods used in water purification such as reverse osmosis in this PDF.

  • Ultraviolet Disinfection in Drinking Water Treatment: The U.S. Army Public Health Command examines the use of ultraviolet light in water purification systems in this PDF.

  • Design of a Water Purification System: Ohio University explains the design behind a water purification system that uses ultraviolet light in this PDF.

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