Environmental activist groups plan press conference to attack gas chlorination
March 17, 2010

The American Water Works Association has issued an advisory to its members noting that Greenpeace and related environmental-activism groups are staging a press conference tomorrow to push for a prohibition on the use of gas chlorination systems in municipal water systems.

Gas chlorination is one of several technologies available for water and wastewater disinfection. Other methods include tablet chlorination and ultraviolet disinfection. Chlorination has been hailed as one of the key milestones in public health of the 20th Century, and the American Chemistry Council highlights the dramatic results towards eliminating typhoid fever that followed the start of water chlorination in the United States. Today's opponents of the use of gas chlorination suggest that the gas canisters themselves pose a threat to public health since they can be ruptured by accidents or used as weapons in terrorist attacks. On balance, though, chlorine-based water disinfection has likely directly or indirectly saved thousands of American lives over the years, and the costs to switching disinfection methods could be burdensome for many water utilities, which are already finding themselves under difficult budgetary conditions just trying to keep their infrastructure updated. Any new regulations that might require changes should undergo a careful cost-benefit analysis first.

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last revised March 2010