Water is life and clean water means health
– Audrey Hepburn
Water is essential to the existence of every living being on earth. It is one of the basic needs of every life form. But with growing water scarcity, it is becoming increasingly difficult to access clean drinking water. Though water distributed in our cities looks clean, it is still unsafe to drink it without purifying, especially for children because they have low immunity. According to Water Aid India, over 60,000 children in India die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water.
Children who drink contaminated water are affected by health issues ranging from gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration to serious illnesses like cholera and typhoid. School children are more susceptible to water-borne diseases because they often drink water from sources that may not be hygienic, such as:
1) School tap: Some city-based schools have installed water purifiers, but in most schools, students still drink water from taps, which is not purified and not entirely free from contaminants.
2) Sharing water bottles: Children tend to share their water bottles with friends who may be carrying infections or affected by illnesses. Sharing bottles with such friends will lead to transfer of germs.
3) Water packets: Water pouches/packets may seem like a safe option but they are not entirely safe. A Deccan Herald article states how water packed in pouches is not treated.
4) Can water: This is a safer option for children than tap water. However, the source of the water must be verified and the can must be bought from a trusted vendor.
The benefits of drinking adequate water are listed in this ClipBook. Click the link below for more details.
Contaminants present in city water
We often assume that if water looks clean and smells fine, it is fit for drinking, which is not the case at all! Untreated water is full of contaminants such as ammonia arsenic, copper and fluoride and a horde of pathogens that cause diseases like dysentery, cholera, typhoid and dengue.
How does water get contaminated?
Though 70% of the earth is covered with water, the quantity of safe drinking water available is very less. But even they are becoming contaminated. Some of the contaminants found in water are:
1) Waste from industries
3) Chemical fertilisers and pesticides
4) Mining activity
5) Marine dumping
How to purify contaminated water?
Advances in technology have led to many ways of purifying water. Most common is the water purifier available in many homes. These purifiers use four types of filtration techniques that are a combination of physical and chemical processes.
Activated carbon filter: This is the most commonly used type. A charcoal rod that resembles an oversized pencil lead acts like a sponge to attract and trap impurities. It also removes pesticides and industrial solvents that may be present in the water. However, it cannot convert hard water to soft water. The disadvantage of this purifier is that its filter gets clogged up with impurities frequently and needs to be replaced.
Ion exchange filter: This filter is best suited to soften water. It is made of sodium ion beads that break down the magnesium and calcium compounds in hard water into ions, resulting in soft water. The disadvantage of this filter is that you need to recharge the filter periodically with more sodium ions.
Reverse osmosis filter: It uses the technique of forcing contaminated water through a membrane at pressure. Water passes through the membrane leaving behind the contaminants. This technique does not eliminate bacteria. A major disadvantage of this process is that it wastes four to five litres of water for producing one litre of clean water.
Distillation filter: Water is boiled to kill bacteria and the steam produced in the process is condensed back into water, leaving behind contaminants and limescales. This process is also not a very effective way of purifying water.
Water purifiers may make your water relatively safe for drinking, but may not be able to render it completely germ-free.
One of the cheapest and easiest methods to get safe drinking water is by boiling it. All you need to do is to bring the water to a boil and then allow it to simmer for at least a minute to kill all the germs. Allow it to cool down to room temperature before drinking it. Boiling water, however, cannot remove chemical contaminants like lead, nitrates and pesticides present in it.
So, it is advisable to use a combination of filtering and boiling to get contaminant and germ-free drinking water.
Does your child drink less water than is required? The tips in the following ClipBook will show you how to encourage her to drink more.