Chlorination for low-cost household water disinfection – A critical review and status in three Latin American countries

A. M. Nielsen, L. A.T. Garcia, K. J.S. Silva, L. P. Sabogal-Paz, M. M. Hincapié, L. J. Montoya, L. Galeano, A. Galdos-Balzategui, F. Reygadas, C. Herrera, S. Golden, J. A. Byrne, P. Fernández-Ibáñez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Chlorination has historically provided microbiologically safe drinking water in public water supplies. Likewise, chlorine has also been introduced as a low-cost disinfection method in rural and marginalized communities, both at community and household level, as well as during emergencies. Although this practice is common and well established for use as a household water treatment technology in the Global South, several challenges in effective and efficient implementation still need to be addressed. Here, we explored these issues by a literature review and narrowed them to the status of three Latin American countries (Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil). Overall, it was found that although guidance on household-based chlorination includes information on health risks and hygiene, this may not create enough incentive for the user to adapt the method satisfactorily. Physicochemical quality of the water influences chlorination efficiency and it is found that variations in quality are rarely considered when recommending chlorine doses during implementation. These are far more often based on a few measurements of turbidity, thereby not considering dissolved organic matter, or seasonal and day-to-day variations. Other factors such as user preferences, chlorine product quality and availability also represent potential barriers to the sustainable use of chlorination. For chlorination to become a sustainable household water treatment, more focus should therefore be given to local conditions prior to the intervention, as well as support and maintenance of behavioural changes during and after the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114004
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Volume244
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Chlorination
  • Drinking water
  • Household water treatment
  • Rural households
  • Water disinfection

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