Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on May 3, 2010
Approved by the Policy Review Committee on May 7, 2010
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 10, 2010
Disinfection of drinking-water must be carried out for the protection of public health. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports research into improvements in disinfection technology to increase efficiency and minimize harmful byproducts.
Waterborne diseases were a major threat to public health prior to the introduction of disinfection treatment of drinking water in the early 20th century. Chlorine and chlorinated compounds are very effective means to disinfect drinking water, and are widely used in the United States. However, chlorine can react with naturally occurring compounds in water to form byproducts such as trihalomethanes, which have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer, kidney damage, and reproductive problems.
Disinfection of drinking water continues to be important to the protection of public health. Civil engineers design water treatment systems and conduct research into treatment technologies. Selection of the appropriate method of disinfection for a particular system should be based on site specific considerations, such as quality of the source water and economics of the project. Continued research into disinfection technology is needed to improve performance and more completely understand the impacts of each method.
ASCE Policy Statement 462
First Approved in 1997