A Sustainable Solution for Safer Drinking Water


Many small water systems in the United States struggle with disinfection compliance, a new study by Ohio State engineering professor Natalie Hull found.

People who get their water from rural, small water systems are at a greater health risk of exposure to bacteria and other harmful pathogens, according to a recent study in the journal AWWA Water Science.

“A lot of small water systems in the United States struggle with disinfection compliance,” said Natalie Hull, lead author of the study and assistant professor in The Ohio State University Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering. “These health-related disinfection violations disproportionately affect small systems, so we’re interested in finding a more accessible, sustainable water treatment solution.”

In 2015 alone, nearly 21 million Americans relied on community water systems that violated health-based quality standards. The study, published in July, found that disinfection by ultraviolet (UV) light via light-emitting diodes (LEDs) may be a sustainable treatment option for small water systems.

“These LEDs we studied are really small, just like the ones in your phone or other electronics, except they emit UVC irradiation, which is germicidal and really effective at disinfection,” Hull said. “Because of their small size and low power requirements, we’re able to design reactors of all shapes and sizes, including for small systems.”

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