Features) - A cool, refreshing drink of water is something many people
take for granted. But what if we didn't have access to safe drinking
water? Up until 100 years ago we did not. In fact, it was often
For thousands of years, people all over the world tried different
ways to filter drinking water to purify it. But it wasn't until the
19th century that scientists discovered germs and learned that they
could carry disease through water and other media. Filtering wasn't
Waterborne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid once killed
thousands of Americans each year. During the four years of the Civil
War, for example, 75,000 people came down with typhoid, and more than
27,000 died from it. In 1900, typhoid claimed another 25,000 lives.
In the early days of the 20th century, chemists found that adding
small amounts of chlorine to drinking water destroys bacteria, viruses
and other disease-causing microorganisms.
In 1908, Jersey City and Chicago became the first U.S. cities to use
chlorine to help provide safe drinking water. By 1941, chlorine
disinfection was being used by 85 percent of U.S. water treatment
systems, and typhoid was nearly eradicated.
In a report called "The History of Drinking Water Treatment,"
(2000), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that "it
was disinfectants like chlorine that played the largest role in
reducing the number of waterborne disease outbreaks in the early
1900s." And in 1997, Life magazine declared "the filtration of drinking
water plus the use of chlorine is probably the most significant public
health advancement of the millennium."
Today, the vast majority of water systems in our country rely on
chlorine disinfectants to provide some of the safest water in the
world. So the next time you enjoy a glass of water from the tap or let
the kids play in the sprinkler, you'll be able to appreciate just how
far we've come.
Water Around the World
everyone is as fortunate as we are. Right now, 1.1 billion people
worldwide still don't have access to clean water. Every year,
infectious diarrhea spread by contaminated water kills nearly 2 million
people, mostly children under five years old.
To get water every day, women and girls in the village of Garin
Makaka, in Niger, Africa, must draw water by hand from hand-dug wells
about 250 feet deep. Then they must carry it in clay pots that, when
full, weigh more than 40 pounds. They make the nearly mile-long trip
four to five times a day - all to get water that is unclean and can
bring diarrheal illnesses to the village.
That's why the American Chemistry Council's (ACC's) Chlorine
Chemistry Division is part of the West African Water Initiative (WAWI),
a partnership of 14 organizations working to increase access to water
supply and sanitation in Ghana, Mali and Niger. Along with the World
Chlorine Council, ACC is providing funds and materials to help build
permanent safe water systems for small communities in developing
ACC and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
recently announced a new two-year, $1.3 million partnership to
implement household-based drinking water programs in communities facing
some of the most severe poverty and health challenges in the world. The
USAID-led programs use chlorine-based disinfection and safe water
storage techniques to disinfect and store water in individual
households. This can dramatically improve water quality and reduce
diarrheal illnesses in vulnerable populations by 50 percent.
"This year, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of drinking water
chlorination in the U.S., we want to help others around the world gain
sustainable access to safe drinking water," said ACC President and CEO
Jack N. Gerard.
Water is life. Projects like the West African Water Initiative are
ensuring that people everywhere have the same clean, healthy,
life-giving water that we enjoy in our own homes.
If you would like to learn more about this initiative, visit americanchemistry.com/100years.
What You Can Do
Yes, you can do something about a deadly problem that seems worlds away.
Click. Visit americanchemistry.com/100years
and take the Clean Water Challenge Quiz. For each correct answer, ACC
and its global industry partners will contribute the estimated cost of
enough chlorine tablets to disinfect 100 liters of water. With a total
commitment of $200,000, ACC's goal is to help contribute enough tablets
to disinfect 100 million liters of drinking water. USAID estimates the
program will reach three million people over two years.
If you're part of a book club, church or civic organization, PTA or
other group, hold fund raisers to help support the clean water efforts
of WAWI and World Vision. Donate the money to the Chlorine Chemistry
Foundation fund (see: chlorinefoundation.org),
or use it to shop the World Vision gift catalog. It has a number of
ways to help supply clean water - everything from buying a share of a
local well to contributing to the general Clean Water Fund. Visit worldvision.org to donate or see the online catalog. This is a great way to get children involved in their world, too.
Bring friends and family together for a Global Dinner. Prepare and
share traditional foods from different countries while introducing
others to the clean water needs around the world. World Vision has
recipes and ideas to help you get started.