Authorities Prefer Robust Water Treatment Techniques to TraditionalChemicalsUsage
Water treatment chemicals are used across variousindustries such asthermal power plants,paper manufacturing industries as well as for processing potable water. This calls for standards, policies and regulations for the usage of chemicals in safe and appropriate standards and limits from various governing bodies, municipal authorities and manufacturing entities. U.S. Water treatment chemicals market hits about $6.8 Billion in 2017, due to growing in the oil, gas and mining industries and a rebound in manufacturing productions.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union Commission are some of the global agencies that have laid down extremely detailed quality standards and limits for the use of chemicals to treat drinking and domestic water. In addition to the above, associations and institutes set global standards while manufacturing entities have their own standards specific to their industry, application and region.The challenges to water chemicals have become prominent due to the recent developments in advanced and robust treatment techniques, which require minimum number of chemicals especially in the treatment of domestic water. Technologies such as UV and UF are becoming extremely popular in the water treatment market for destroying pathogens. For instance, a double chemical failure, while adhering to WHO standards, in a water treatment facility in Milwaukee (Wisconsin, USA) caused an unmitigated outbreak of ‘Cryptosporidium parvum’. A double chemical dfailure is a system fault when chemical content of the water is twice that of the standard levels.Thus, companies would most likely adopt treatment techniques which require fewer chemicals so as to reduce efforts in monitoring and maintaining the chemical limits. Moreover, developing countries that have limited resources, treatment and monitoring technologies find it difficult to meet the standard levels set by developed countries like the US-EPA.
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Considering the domestic water supply, regulatory bodies such as WHO, US-EPA, EU Commission set the global standards for water quality and the acceptable chemical content.These regulations take into consideration all of the stakeholders and entities which include public health authorities, local authorities, water resource management, drinking water supply agencies, community management, water vendors, individual customers, certification agencies and plumbing. All of them have established roles and responsibilities in drinking-water safety management. In addition to these regulatory bodies, every country has its own regulatory bodies for regulating its domestic water supply and consumption, such as the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which is relevant to India. Furthermore, industries in different sectors that utilize water in their production processes, have formulated their own standards.The International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam (IAPWS) is an association of 21 countries that develop water and steam quality standards for power stations. The paper and pulp industry in South Africa, follow the guidelines laid down by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
The treatment of water is a multistage process which may include coagulation, flocculation, filtration, disinfection, and other techniques specific to the application and the industry. This calls for thorough and comprehensive regulations on behalf of the regulatory bodies. With the need to meet increasing demands and access to resources as a result of population appreciation, WHO had planned to charter a global standard for potable water quality. By 1984, the WHO had chartered the ‘Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality’ standardsfor maintaining health and safety across the globe. These lay down the reasonable and minimum requirements of safe practice, allowable chemical limits, fact sheets on significant microbial and chemical hazards and the adoption of new tools and technologies. For example, the UN sets the threshold levels for the consumption of water treatment chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, etc.
The major challenge to the treatment of potable water by chemicals is the introduction of UV (Ultra violet), UF (Ultra filtration) and RO (Reverse Osmosis) filtration technologies, as they eliminate the need of chemicals for the disinfection treatment.Regulatory bodies have been quick to recommend and integrate these technologies in the disinfection of water. For example, countries like Australia and New Zealand have rolled out the Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS 3497) with regards to the application of UV for disinfection of drinking water.
The standards set by regulatory bodies accepted globally as water is a universal and necessary resource, shared by all humankind. Although countries may have their own standards and regulations, the basic water quality standards remains the same,across the globe. The developing countries consistently lack access to power and other energy dependent technologies such as RO, and thus prefer to use traditional chemical treatment which are redundant in developed countries. Sustainability may not be the primary agenda for these countries, whereas developed countries have sustainability targets in their focus.
In the case of industrial water quality requirement, the acceptance of quality standards vary from region to region. For example, the IAPWS standards is accepted in only 21 countries. As new technologies for the treatment of water are being developed, the regulatory bodies are compelled to produce safe and appropriate standards.
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