In 1910, Philadelphia, the birthplace of American independence, became the site of another milestone. The city was the first municipality to treat wastewater with chlorine. Even the effects of the treatment began rapidly spread to other locations. This innovation proved a boon to disease-fighting efforts. Thanks to the use of this chemical, maladies such as cholera, typhoid, and diphtheria were all but eradicated by 1950.
However, as with so many beneficial practices and discoveries, there is a downside. Chlorine in household cleaning products causes eye irritation, as anyone who swims in a heavily chlorinated pool knows. Exposure can also have an adverse effect on the upper respiratory tract and lungs. Those who spend extended periods of time around chlorine, such as sanitation plant workers, often experience negative effects like breathing difficulties.
There is, happily, a solution to this dilemma. According to Cathodic Marine – Electrochlorination provides the benefits of traditional chlorination without the unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects.
The electrocholorination process is an uncomplicated one. A direct current is introduced to seawater or a brine solution. As the water runs through an area containing two opposite electrodes on either side and the current is turned on, two things happen. The seawater undergoes desalination and hypochlorite, a kind of chlorine, is produced. The pluses of this process are many. It is a simple, inexpensive way to convert seawater into a salt- and microorganism-free source of drinking water. When highly saline water is used, the result no more than 1% sodium hypochlorite, an amount safe for people and effective in eliminating bacteria. The process is safer for workers, as no harmful chlorine gas is produced, and the chemical itself does not come into contact with people or animals. Instead, the minuscule amounts of chlorine are a product of the process itself and do not enter the water supply.
But perhaps the greatest advantage to electrochlorination services is environmental. Chlorine has adverse effects on animals and ecosystems. Therefore, the benefits of the newer water treatment method to our planet are made clearer by mentioning some hazards of the gas itself and traditional chlorination.
☢ Airborne chlorine has an effect on the respiratory, circulatory systems of animals.
☢ When chlorine makes its way into waterways, it can be detrimental to fish and other life. If the chemical mixes with copper, the result is an effluent, a toxic combination of two or more hazardous substances. Chlorines, including dioxin, are the cause of deadly diseases in aquatic creatures. Worse yet, it has a ripple effect: contaminated fish are eaten by animals, which are then consumed by people.
☢ A byproduct of traditional chlorination is nitrogen. While the chemical itself occurs abundantly in the natural world, a too-strong concentration can reduce oxygen levels.
The benefits of electrochlorination are as clear as water. It is an innovation whose time has come.
Recommended Journal of Marine Engineering: Appraisal of Marine Growth in Offshore Installments