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Use of household bleach for emergency disinfection of drinking water

Household bleach is typically used as a disinfectant for water in times of emergencies and by those engaging in recreational activities such as camping or rafting. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a concentration of free chlorine of 1 mg/L for
30 minutes, or about 0.75 mL (1/8 teaspoon) of household bleach per gallon of water. The goal of the study described in this article was to assess two household bleach products to kill waterborne bacteria and viruses using the test procedures in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency&;s Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Purifiers. Bleach was found to meet these requirements in waters of low turbidity and organic matter. While the test bacterium was reduced by six logs in high turbid and organic-laden waters, the test viruses were reduced only by one-half to one log. In such waters greater chlorine doses or contact times are needed to achieve greater reduction of viruses.

Author: Elmaksoud SA, Patel N, Maxwell SL, Sifuentes LY, Gerba CP

Citation: J Environ Health. 2014 May;76(9):22-5.

Published: 19/12/2014

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: Journal of Environmental Health