Do you know how your drinking water is treated?
Disinfection of public drinking water is one of the great public health success stories of the 20th century.
In 1908, Jersey City, N.J., became the first U.S. city to routinely disinfect community water.
Other cities and towns quickly followed, and by 1920, the typhoid rate in the United States had dropped by 66 percent.
But that battle isn’t over.
Around the world, more than 2 billion people lack reliable access to safe water (SN: 8/18/18, p. 14), and half a million people die each year from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, according to the World Health Organization.
If big cities are struggling, small towns with skimpy budgets as well as the many people who get their water from private wells often have it harder, lacking access to the infrastructure or technology to make water reliably safe.
In this issue, Science News staff writer Laurel Hamers digs into the latest research on water treatment technology and finds a focus on efforts to invent affordable, scalable solutions.
There’s a lot of engineering and chemistry involved, not surprisingly, and also physics — it’s hard to move water efficiently through a filter while also catching the bad stuff.
Her story is a testament to researcher ingenuity, and a helpful primer on how a typical municipal water treatment plant works.
Plus I found data on potential contaminants such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, as well as information on how residents can get their water tested for lead, which can leach from pipes or fixtures.