Chlorination for low-cost household water disinfection: A critical review and status in three Latin American countries

Anne-Mette Nielsen, L.A.T. Garcia, K.J.S. Silva, Margarita M. Hincapie, Lyda P Sabogal-Paz, Luis Javier Montoya-Jaramillo, Ane Galdos Balzategi, Fermin Reygadas, C Herrera, Saul M Golden, John Byrne, A P Fernandez-Ibanez

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Chlorination has historically provided microbiologically safe drinking water in public water supplies. Likewise, chlorine has also been introduced as a low-cost disinfection method in rural and marginalized communities, both at community and household level, as well as during emergencies. Although this practice is common and well established for use as a household water treatment technology in the Global South, several challenges in effective and efficient implementation still need to be addressed. Here, we explored these issues by a literature review and narrowed them to the status of three Latin American countries (Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil). Overall, it was found that although guidance on household-based chlorination includes information on health risks and hygiene, this may not create enough incentive for the user to adapt the method satisfactorily. Physicochemical quality of the water influences chlorination efficiency and it is found that variations in quality are rarely considered when recommending chlorine doses during implementation. These are far more often based on a few measurements of turbidity, thereby not considering dissolved organic matter, or seasonal and day-to-day variations. Other factors such as user preferences, chlorine product quality and availability also represent potential barriers to the sustainable use of chlorination. For chlorination to become a sustainable household water treatment, more focus should therefore be given to local conditions prior to the intervention, as well as support and maintenance of behavioural changes during and after the intervention. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.]
Original languageEnglish
Article number114004
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Early online date8 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund – United Kingdom Research and Innovation (GCRF-UKRI) for SAFEWATER (Grant Ref number EP/P032427/1 ); The Royal Society ( ICA\R1\201373 - International Collaboration Awards, 2020); National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil, process nº 308070/2021–6 ); DfE Northern Ireland (funding the PhD of A.M. Nielsen); and The Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel CAPES-PROEX, financial code 001 (granted K.J.S. Silva with a PhD scholarship).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • Chlorination
  • Household water treatment
  • Water disinfection
  • Drinking water
  • rural households
  • Rural households


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