Making Water Safe and Better Tasting
The earliest recorded method of water filtration dates back to 2000 B.C. where hieroglyphics depict methods of boiling water, placing hot metal instruments in water and filtering water through charcoal and sand. These early methods are thought to have been instituted to make water taste better, thus, cleaning it. Water filtration was further developed with the advent of the microscope, which made it possible to see foreign particles and contaminants in water that would have otherwise been considered to be pure and clean.
Most notably, the microscope was responsible to identify cholera bacteria in drinking water during a disease outbreak in 19th century London. The outbreak was rampart in all areas except those areas where drinking water was filtered through sand. Chlorine was also discovered to be an effective, chemical disinfectant capable to rid the infectious water of cholera. It was further discovered that the chemical, chlorine, when used in combination with sand filtering, was effective in combating cholera as well the water borne diseases, typhoid and dysentery.
In an effort to achieve drinking water purity, chlorine disinfection and sand filtering became prominent methods of municipal water treatment throughout Europe, and then, the US. These primitive methods of disinfecting and filtering water to achieve purity have been studied and evaluated with the use of technology. Chlorine, despite its history of ridding water of contaminants, is a poison. It has since been found to exhibit side effects that aggravate and induce respiratory complications, such as asthma. The poisonous chemical vaporizes at a faster rate than water, making it dangerously harmful when inhaled, especially during showering. Fluoride has since been added as an additional chemical disinfecting agent, but also has side effects of dental damage and other health complications in young children. Lead and other chemical contaminants and by-products further compromise drinking water during the piping and delivery of treated water.
Business and industry have been instrumental in the disposal of waste materials into our fresh water supply sources. This inhabitation has directly contaminated the water supply and also upset the balance of water flow and creation established by nature. The US Clean Water Act, legislated in 1972, was intended to restore the physical, chemical and biological balance of water that had been disturbed by contamination. The Act specified that all natural water supplies would, at least, be safe for fishing and swimming by 1985. This specification led to the development of some form of water filtration and disinfection in every US city as well as advanced technological innovations in the filtering of water used in industry. Even so, the severity of past and continued damage has left more than 1/3 of all water supplies still polluted with contaminants.
In an effort to reduce the contaminants in drinking water and also to comply with national efforts to make drinking water safe, water-filtering systems have been developed to filter water within individual homes. Systems exist to filter incoming water for the entire house and also systems are designed to filter water, inline, at various points of water distribution within the house, such as at faucets and refrigerators or in water pitchers.