The Basics About Disinfectants Used In Drinking Water

In order to protect our drinking water from pathogens, organisms and other contaminants suppliers often treat the water with disinfectants such as chlorine. This practice helps eliminate the majority of contaminants there are those that they fail to eliminate. Cryptosporidium pathogens are microbial and are highly resistant to the traditional disinfection methods. Disinfectants can also react with the naturally occurring materials found in the water source and create byproducts such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids which can pose health risks of their own. You can learn more about byproducts at Purity Bay El Paso.

The major challenge that water suppliers face is how to control the pathogens and the disinfectant byproducts in order to maintain high quality water and decrease any chance of a health risk to the public.

What Are The Disinfectants, How Are They Used and What Are The Health Effects?


Chloramine is an additive used to control microbes and is used for a residual disinfectant in water pipes. It is formed as ammonia is added to the water that contains free chlorine. One of the common types of disinfectant used municipal water systems in monochloramine.

Health Effects

If water containing excessive amounts of chloramine is consumed it can cause irritation to the nose, eyes and create stomach discomforts or even anemia.


A water additive used by water suppliers to control microbes, it is a powerful oxidant and offers an inexpensive and long lasting effect for disinfecting drinking water.

Health Effects

Irritation to the eyes and nose are common heath effects to an over exposure of chlorine in the water. Stomach discomforts such as nausea are also experienced in many who consume an excessive amount.

Chlorine Dioxide

An additive used to control microbes in the water and also helps to control odors and tastes. It rapidily disappears from water in which it is stored.

Health Effects

If young children, infant’s or expecting women consume large quantities of this disinfectant that is over an excess of the MCL there could be nervous system damage. Some people who consume the excessive amounts over a long period of time develop anemia.

What Are The EPA’s Standards And Regulations For Disinfectants In The Drinking Water?

The EPA has set forth a maximum residual disinfectant level (MRDLG) to regulate the levels of disinfectants in our drinking water.

There are also standards set forth for disinfectant byproducts to help keep our water safe for consumption. The standards are designed to ensure the levels are high enough to eliminate the pathogens and other contaminants but that they are low enough o keep us safe and protect us from any health risks.


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