A Delicate Balancing Act. Disinfecting Water and Wastewater While Protecting Human Health and the Environment.
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The benefits of disinfecting water and wastewater are well documented. Obviously, drinking water and wastewater still need to be disinfected. Supplying drinking water that has not been properly disinfected would increase the number of water-borne diseases caused by viruses and other pathogens. One official, when asked if it would be hard to estimate the effect of no longer disinfecting water and wastewater, replied it would be easy. Just count the body bags, was his terse reply. On the other hand, if the methods now being used to disinfect frinking water are increasing the rates of cancer and other human health risks, those techniques must be reexamined. Other ways of disinfecting drinking water that may be more safe should be studied. Particular attention needs to be paid to those methods that probide excellent disinfection (both at the pland and in the distribution system) and minimize the formation of dangerous by-products.