Chlorination against bacteria, viruses and mould
The Covid-19 pandemic is making us all hyper-hygienic. But are chlorine-based products still the right choice for disinfection?
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re all a lot more conscious of the need to keep our domestic and workplace environments clean. It isn’t surprising; Covid-19 is a highly contagious and deadly disease, with an estimated fatality rate of between 0.5 – 1%.
Some organisations and companies are promoting chlorine as the disinfectant of choice for surface disinfection in our homes and workplaces. More recently, chlorine is being promoted as the ideal legionella control disinfectant for buildings opening up again after lockdown.
But how sensible is this? Let’s take a closer look at chlorine.
All About Chlorine
Chlorine was first discovered by Karl Scheele in 1774. Its introduction into water in the early 1900s has virtually eliminated the threat of water borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera from Europe and the United States since that time. Arguably water chlorination is one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. Almost all UK water supplies are disinfected using chlorine.
When added to water, chlorine forms several by-products, as many as 700 depending on which water is being analysed. Chlorine is very reactive and reacts with the low level or organic materials found in almost every water supply. The most common are tri halo methanes (THM’s).
Many of these by-products are carcinogenic, toxic, or both. They are present in our drinking water at trace levels only, but they can still present a health risk to certain individuals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that the risk to health from chlorine by-products is extremely small in comparison with the risks associated with inadequate disinfection.