Bleach as a Disinfectant
Bleach, otherwise known as sodium hypochlorite, is a chemical formula that is commonly used as a disinfectant for water treatment systems. A disinfectant is a cleaner that is applied to other substances in order to destroy pathogenic microorganisms that may cause infection. Sodium hypochlorite for drinking water treatment is formulated by the absorption of chlorine gas into a cold sodium hydroxide solution.
Some characteristics of a bleach disinfectant include:
- A disinfectant has a higher kill capability for pathogenic bacteria than a sanitizer for bacteria
- Very few disinfectants can sterilize (which is the complete elimination of microorganisms)
- Those disinfectants that can sterilize are completely dependent upon the mode of application for success
- There are some bacterial endospores that are resistant to disinfectants; but very few of them affect water treatment systems
One type of drinking water treatment is shock chlorination, which is used in water wells, springs and other types of water sources. Chlorination helps to reduce bacterial and algae residue and is carried out by mixing sodium hypochlorite into the water. Two aspects of shock chlorination are very important to keep in mind: 1) Water that has been chlorinated should not be drunk until it has a ppm of three or fewer; and 2) In order to avoid the risk of explosion, commercial sodium chloride should never be mixed with commercial calcium. There is also a danger of small quantities of byproducts such as chloroform when using bleach as a disinfectant for water treatment systems.
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