Are Water Purification Tablets Safe? 7 Tips

Below I’ve discussed this question – Are water purification tablets safe? Water purification options come in water purification tablets, powder, or liquid form. They contain iodine and chlorine as disinfectants. 

Are Water Purification Tablets Safe

You can add these tablets to untreated water to fight harmful microbes. Therefore, make the water safe for human consumption. Also, check this guide that examines if water purification tablets are expire

So, Are Water Purification Tablets Safe?

Yes water purification tablets are safe. They’re a great choice if you suspect your water has been contaminated. Water purification tablets are among the best and effective methods for purifying water. These tablets come in handy while camping or hiking in the wilderness where access to safe water is a challenge.

For starters, your bottled water can run out while going hiking or camping in the wilderness. Your best or only option to quench your thirst can be a stream, lake, or waterfall.

Nevertheless, most back country hikers and those that love remote camping trips depend on such water bodies to replenish their water source. But, such waters contain plenty of microbes that can cause serious health issues to humans.

Therefore, drinking such untreated waters can cause mild diseases. These diseases include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Or even more severe diseases such as meningitis and hepatitis.

According to McClung et al. (2017), in 2013–2014 the United States reported 15 waterborne disease outbreaks. These outbreaks resulted in 289 cases of illness, one hundred and eight hospitalizations, and seventeen deaths.

Legionella (a type of bacterium found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams) was responsible for 94% of hospitalizations, 63% of the outbreaks, and all deaths.

McClung et al. also reported another outbreak of giardiasis.  This outbreak was caused by drinking untreated water from a spring, river, and stream. 

Related: How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?

Application of Water Purification Tablets

Therefore, it is crucial to disinfect all water prior to consuming.  You can add water purification tablets  to unsafe or untreated water. This way you fight disease-causing microbes like viruses, bacteria, & protozoa. Thus, make water safe for consumption.

Most people prefer these tablets because of their simplicity and portability. Using these tablets is quiet simple;

  • Filter the untreated/dirty water through a cloth or filter
  • Drop one tablet in two liters of water
  • Wait thirty minutes
  • Drink your water without fear.

These tablets work by releasing essential chemicals into the water which kill harmful microorganisms.

They are used when a natural disaster occurs and interrupts the distribution of safe water. They are also used during hiking and camping in far off places where access to clean water is limited.

Hence, adding these tablets directly to untreated water destroys microorganisms.

Water purifying chemicals have different action mechanism. Each of the said action has a specific period needed for it to dissolve properly and show desired results.

Different factors determine how well a purifying chemical can act and kill harmful microbes. Thus make untreated water safe for consumption.

Such factors include;

  • PH
  • Temperature
  • Time given for the tablet to dissolve
  • The level of dirt in the water.

However, not all microbes or pathogens get completely removed by the Water purifying chemicals.

Backer, (2019) insists that boiling untreated water is the only recognized and recommended way of treating water. However,  boiling water is not always practical or possible especially after a disaster or while travelling in remote locations.

Therefore, ensure you use water purifying tablets each time you suspect the water in unsafe. 

Related: Does Boiling Water Remove Chlorine?

How Do Water Purification Tablets Work?

These purification tablets are generally iodine and chlorine. These two are very effective and are a great choice for water purification process.

The active ingredients in these tablets work by deactivating micro-organisms like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa found in rivers, streams, or springs to make the water safe for drinking.

Such micro-organisms facilitate entry of diseases into the body to cause mild to severe illnesses or even death.

Water Purification Tablets Side Effects

Some Water Purification Tablets have negative health outcomes for some people.

For example, iodine water purification tablets can cause health risks to pregnant women, individuals with thyroid conditions, or those with iodine allergies.

Water purifying chemicals will not completely eliminate all microorganisms. Over time, some of these chemicals can lose their effectiveness, especially if kept improperly.

Also, if these chemicals are not used according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer they will not work as intended or be completely effective.

Hence, you need to read and understand all the usage instructions provided. When used as instructed, water purifying chemicals can be a great safety measure against contaminated water.

These chemicals are generally safe as they are designed to purify drinking water.

However, you need to be extra cautious as Water Purification Tablets are usually mistaken for drugs or candy and can be dangerous when swallowed without dissolving in water.

Water Purification Tablets can cause instant irritation of the stomach, mouth, or throat. this leads  to serious symptoms like burning sensations, irritation of the stomach, throat, and mouth,  etc.

If used inappropriately, or excessively, or if swallowed whole, it can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea. Iodine water purification tablets can also affect the overall health of a user especially when used for longer periods.

Known side effects from prolonged iodine intake include stomach pain, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and metallic taste. Individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease are particularly sensitive to iodine and their harmful side effects.

The threat of poisoning by water purifying tablets is dependent on various factors like type and amount of product consumed, the user’s age, and their overall health.

 Conclusion

Water purifying tablets have become a quick choice for many. They have proved useful in eliminating water-borne diseases. However, a person especially children can mistakenly consume them because of their edible nature.

Therefore, it is important to store these products in their original packaging. Keep them away from food or medications to avoid unintended exposure.

It is also advisable that you adhere to the directions and guidelines provided. Following given instructions ensures the products work effectively.

Hence, when planning for a camping or hiking expedition, or arranging your emergency survival kit ensure you include water purification tablets. This will cover for those moments you’ll run out of your bottled water. Therefore,  you may need to replenish from natural water bodies.

References

  1. McClung, R. P., Roth, D. M., Vigar, M., Roberts, V. A., Kahler, A. M., Cooley, L. A., … & Hill, V. R. (2017).
  2. Waterborne disease outbreaks associated with environmental and undetermined exposures to water—United States, 2013–2014. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report66(44), 1222.
  3. Backer, H. (2019). Water disinfection for international travelers. In Travel Medicine (pp. 31-41). Elsevier.

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