A century ago, in 1908, chlorine chemistry’s germ-defeating properties were demonstrated in drinking water in two very different settings in the United States. First, chlorination transformed animal feed water, drawn from a highly polluted stream in Chicago’s Union Stockyards, into a product that exceeded the purity of city water. Days later, in Jersey City, chlorinated
Cleaning and disinfection (the removal or killing of disease-causing germs) are critically important to maintain healthy conditions in homes, schools, healthcare facilities and other indoor areas. At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others have noted that some cleaning products can present health and environmental concerns. This has led a number of
The recently reported story of a man with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis should sensitize us to the fact that what many think is an eradicated disease is really quite prevalent in certain countries of the world and remains potentially deadly. More importantly, this case demonstrates how easily diseases more contagious than TB could be spread around the world in a very short time. What are the lessons that should be learned from this incident to reduce the chance of a more deadly outbreak of disease?
In 1847, the Austrian physician, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, demonstrated that puerperal sepsis (“childbed fever”) was contagious and that incidents of infection could be dramatically reduced by enforcing appropriate hand hygiene by medical caregivers. In his study, Dr. Semmelweis noticed an alarming difference between the low infection rates in the mothers cared for by midwives in one hospital ward and the higher rates of those attended to by the medical students in another ward.
About 12 million American households, roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population, draw their drinking water from private wells. Unlike public water systems, which are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), private wells are the responsibilities of homeowners. EPA standards do not apply to private wells. Consequently, well-owning homeowners are obliged to protect
Detractors Continue to Challenge Chlorination as a Safe Water Solution for Developing Nations. Despite data supporting chlorine’s highly beneficial impact on clean water supplies and public health, claims persist that the potential risks of chlorination outweigh the public health value of water disinfection. To me this is comparable to watching the third sequel of a