All forms of chlorine are widely used, despite their respective drawbacks. One drawback is that chlorine from any source reacts with natural organic compounds in the water to form potentially harmful chemical by-products. These by-products, trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), are both carcinogenic in large quantities and are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate in the UK. The formation of THMs and haloacetic acids may be minimized by effective removal of as many organics from the water as possible prior to chlorine addition. Although chlorine is effective in killing bacteria, it has limited effectiveness against pathogenic protozoa that form cysts in water such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium.


The simplest levels of filtration can be achieved by running the water through a cloth. The tighter the weave of the cloth the better it will filter water, as it will be able to capture smaller/finer particles. Just about any cloth will catch the “big” stuff. Folding the cloth to form multiple layers will help in this process. If you are setting up a long term camp, you can set up a more intricate filtration system, that will not only filter particulates, but also improve taste.


Some water supplies may also contain disinfections by-products, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radionuclides. Specialized methods for controlling formation or removing them can also be part of water treatment. To learn more about the different treatments for drinking water, see the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse’s Fact Sheet Series on Drinking Water TreatmentsExternal.
STAT: The number of annual deaths from ESD in the U.S. are unknown, since they are counted among all drownings. But anecdotal evidence shows that ESD is widespread. ESD prevention groups have successfully urged some states to enact safety standards, including the installation of ground-fault circuit interrupters and a central shutoff for a dock's electrical system.
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