On The Radio – UIowa’s Schnoor looks at ways to remove chlorine in water treatment

(Joost Nelissen/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | April 4, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment looks at a recent article by a University of Iowa professor about methods for removing the use of chlorine in the drinking water disinfection process. 

Transcript: UIowa’s Schnoor looks at ways to remove chlorine in water treatment

As the water contamination crisis continues in Flint, Michigan, a University of Iowa researcher is looking for ways to prevent a similar crisis in Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In a February perspective in the journal Science, UI Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Jerry Schnoor and researchers in the U.S. and western Europe offered their insights into the best ways to reduce tap water contaminants from public infrastructure. Among their preliminary findings is that residual disinfectants like chlorine may not be necessary if standards are in place.

Schnoor: “Chlorine, chlorine-oxide, and chloramines are strong oxidants used to maintain a disinfectant residual in water distribution pipes for safe drinking water. Changing from one form of chlorine to another at the water treatment plant can cause leaching of lead from old pipes, sauder, or faucets. That’s what happened some years ago to Washington D.C. when children were exposed to lead in their drinking water. In Europe, certain countries like the Netherlands have shown that a chlorine residual is not necessary, provided enough steps are taken to ensure advanced treatment of the water, replacement of the pipes periodically, and a clean distribution system.”

CGRER co-director Schnoor found that municipalities can deliver drinking water without disinfectants like chlorine as long as the water sources are protected and the water systems are adequately maintained. Replacing pipes at appropriate times has also decreased the need for residual disinfectants.

For more information about Schnoor’s research, visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

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