Unsafe Drinking Water

Healthy Water

Purification of Water In An Emergency

Unsafe Drinking Water Facts

Water is vital for the sustenance of human life and of all living organisms and unsafe drinking water should not be consumed. The human body comprises more than 70% of water and it is said that the minimum amount of water an adult should drink daily is 2 liters. However this minimum amount varies and in very hot climates as much as 4 liters is recommended. It is a fact that people living in hot areas will typically need to drink more water than those living in colder areas due to perspiration.

During an emergency, it is quite possible to have access only to unsafe drinking water. This may be due to the fact that water may become contaminated as a direct result of the disaster or emergency. For example, during a natural disasters such as an earthquake or tsunami, water pipes may get damaged and allow contaminants to seep into the pipes making it unsafe drinking water. Sometimes sewage pipes may also leak and contaminate drinking water.

Unsafe drinking water is drinking water than contains contaminants. There are different categories of water contaminants but they can be broadly classified into two groups. These two categories are biological contaminants and non-biological contaminants.

Biological contaminants include bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Unsafe drinking water that contains these biological contaminants can cause diseases like typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. If left untreated, these diseases can cause death,especially if there is no clean drinking water.

Non-biological contaminants include chemical contaminants such as nitrates and mercury. These types of contaminants may change the taste, smell and color of the drinking water. The harmful effects of unsafe drinking water contaminated with chemical contaminants may not be felt immediately but after some time cause life threatening problems due to build up of the contaminants in the human body.

Unsafe drinking water should therefore be purified before anybody can drink it or use it for cooking. One of the simplest and most popular methods of purifying water is boiling. Boiling to purify water will involve bringing the contaminated water to boil and keeping it boiling for a minimum of 10 minutes. Boiling it for this period of time is to make sure that biological contaminants are gotten rid off. Bacteria, viruses and protozoa cannot withstand high temperatures and therefore die making the unsafe drinking water safe to drink if there are no chemical contaminants present.

In the case of water that has chemical contaminants other water purification methods must be used. If water is contaminated by chemicals, a method of water purification that can be very effective is distillation.

Distillation is based on the fact that water contaminants have a different boiling point than water. Water is boiled until it turns into vapor then it is condensed back to liquid form. When it is in vapor form, it is possible to separate the water from the contaminants. In most cases, distillation is done in conjunction with filtration to make the purification process more effective.

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