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DISINFECTION

Besides coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration, water must undergo an additional treatment step; disinfection. This is necessary because no combination of the other three steps can be relied upon to remove all disease-producing organisms from water; also because there is danger of recontamination during handling before consumption. Residual disinfection using chlorination is the final step in all water treatment processes (including distillation). Under emergency or field conditions, water may be disinfected with iodine or by boiling.

The most satisfactory means of water disinfection and provision of a residual is by means of a chemical disinfectant. The efficiency of the disinfection process is dependent upon numerous

Figure 9-17.-Pressure filter.

factors. These include the chemical used, the contact time, the type and concentration of microorganisms, the pH and temperature of the water, the presence of interfering substances, and

the degree of protection afforded organisms from the disinfecting solution by materials in which they are imbedded. Therefore, various concentrations of disinfectant are required depending upon the local environmental conditions and the amount of particle removal effected.

Chlorine is the most commonly used chemical for disinfection of water. It is used in field water supply in the form of calcium hypochlorite, a standard item in the supply system (commercially known as HTH powder). When the calcium hypochlorite is dissolved, the chlorine goes into solution and a calcium carbonate sludge settles out. The chlorine is present in the solution as hypochlorous acid or hypochlorite ion (depending on the pH). Both forms are powerful oxidizing substances. The chlorine available in either form rapidly oxidizes the organic and inorganic matter, including the bacteria in the water. In this reaction the chlorine is converted to chloride and is no longer available as a disinfectant. The organic matter as well as such material as iron and manganese consumes the chlorine. The use of chlorine makes it possible to introduce an accurately measured dosage to ensure the destruction of disease-producing organisms and provide a readily measured residual to safeguard against recontamination during further handling.

Chlorine dosage is the amount of chlorine added to water to satisfy the chlorine demand as well as to provide a residual after a specified time. The amount required to disinfect water varies with the organic content and pH value of the water, the temperature, the time of contact, and the chlorine residual required. The dosage is usually stated in terms of parts per million (ppm) or milligrams per liter (mg/l).

The chlorine demand of water is the difference between the quantity of chlorine applied in water treatment and the total available residual chlorine present at the end of a specified contact period. The chlorine demand is dependent upon the nature and the quantity of chlorine-consuming agents present and the pH value and temperature of the water. (High pH and low temperatures retard disinfection by chlorination.) For comparative purposes, it is imperative that all test conditions be stated. The smallest amount of residual chlorine considered to be significant is 0.1 ppm. The relationship of the demand to the length of the contact period is discussed below.

 

Some of the chlorine-consuming agents in the water are nonpathogenic (nondisease-causing organisms), but this bears no relationship to the fact that they contribute to the total chlorine demand of the water. Navy policy requires that for field water supplies, the chlorine demand must be satisfied and chlorine residual must be present.

Residual chlorine is the amount of unreacted chlorine remaining at a specified time after the chlorine compound is added. Chlorine in aqueous solution is highly unstable. It may change quantitatively and qualitatively under numerous conditions, including the presence of other elements or compounds. The total residual chlorine in the water can be chemically divided into several types.

. Total available residual chlorine. This is the sum of the free available chlorine and the combined available chlorine.

. Free available chlorine. This refers to hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion present in water. These are the most effective disinfection forms of chlorine. The free available chlorine is a rapid-acting type, important because it can be relied upon to destroy bacteria relatively quickly, and thus is active during the period immediately following chlorination. The relative amount of each present in the water is dependent upon the pH value of the water. It is important to remember that when the pH is raised, the quantity of free available chlorine required to kill the same number of microorganisms increases. With decreasing temperature, the same situation of increasing dosage to maintain the same kill is encountered. If the contact time is varied, then the dosage applied must also be changed. For example, to shorten the contact time the dosage would have to be increased.

. Combined available chlorine. This results from the presence of ammonia or organic nitrogen that will react to form simple chloramines. Thus the term combined available chlorine arises from the fact that the chlorine has combined with another substance. Chloramines are a slower acting and less active form of disinfectant. Therefore, a much higher concentration than that of free available chlorine is needed to produce the same germ-destroying effect. The specific chloramines present are also a function of pH.

Chlorine demand in most water is likely to be largely satisfied 10 minutes after chlorine is added. After the first 10 minutes of chlorination, disinfection continues but at a diminishing rate. A standard period of 30 minutes' contact time is used to assure that highly resistant or high diseaseproducing organisms have been destroyed, providing a high enough dosage has been applied. Given a sufficiently large chlorine content, and if certain other conditions are met, even such special water purification problems as the presence of amoebic cysts or schistosomes will be solved with the 30-minute contact period.

The efficiency of the chemical disinfection process is dependent upon numerous factors. They include the type and concentration of microorganisms, the pH and temperature of the water, the presence of interfering substances, and whether or not the organisms are protected from the disinfection solution by being embedded in tissue cells, or clumps of tissue cells, or other material. Therefore, various concentrations of disinfectants are required. Minimum concentrations of disinfectants are prescribed below. Higher concentrations may frequently be prescribed by the medical officer on the basis of his knowledge of endemic disease or local environmental conditions.

SEABEE-operated mobile and portable water treatment units use coagulation and filtration as a part of the treatment process. They are capable of a high degree of removal of particulate material. When those units are used, sufficient chlorine will be added to the water, preferably before coagulation, so the residual in the finished water after 30 minutes of contact will be at least as much as that indicated by the following table.

If adequate provisions are not made for accurate and frequent measurement of pH, 5.00 mg/1 must be used. The following guidelines were used in developing the above table:

. The water to be treated would be natural surface or ground water of average composition and not grossly or deliberately contaminated.

. Water temperature would be above the freezing point.

. Treatment would consist of coagulation, sedimentation, and filtration through diatomaceous earth. Water plant operators would be well trained and dependable. . The prescribed concentrations of free

chlorine should provide a reasonable margin of safety for all bacteria and viruses pathogenic to man. Parasitic ova (eggs) would have been removed in the coagulation and filtration steps of the treatment process.

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