DOH warns public against contamination of potable water

August 7, 2012 10:04 pm 

By Sweetie de la Torre

MANILA, Aug. 7 — Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona on Tuesday urged the public to take precautions in drinking water amidst possible contamination after the continuous heavy rainfall and flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

"Water must be purified to ensure that it is clean and fit for human consumption. Water that is not safe to drink can make you sick from a few hours or up to several weeks after taking it," Ona said.

Ona reminded everyone to always use pure clean water for drinking, preparing beverages, cooking, brushing teeth, washing hands and face and washing eating and cooking tools to avoid outbreaks of diarrhea.

“Clear water is not necessarily safe to drink. Purifying it by boiling or disinfection will make it potable,” Ona said.

Here are guidelines in purifying water: water must be filtered first to trap and remove large impurities. Any clean cloth or coffee filter can be used as a sieve; if the water is cloudy, it can be made to stand for half a day, after which clear water can be scooped and then filtered; boiling water kills all potential germs one may get from contaminated water.

Heat water and allow it to boil for two minutes then let it cool. Boiled water that has cooled can be used immediately. Stirring it or putting it from one clean container to another container several times or adding a pinch of salt or powdered juice can improve taste.

Also water can be disinfected by adding two drops of five percent chlorine solution (unscented bleach) for every one liter of unrefrigerated water. Allow it to stand for an hour. If a faint chlorine smell is detected after an hour, then it is safe to drink. Repeat the procedure if one cannot detect the smell after the first try. If it does not have the faint chlorine smell on the third try, then the water must be discarded since it may contain many germs. To improve taste, allow it to air some more or transfer it from one clean container to another several times; follow provided instructions if one opts to use commercial chlorine tablets for purifying water. Chlorine solutions are also available in most health centers or evacuation centers.

Amidst the ongoing relief operations, Ona stressed the need for clean potable water, as individuals can consume as much as 2-3 liters of water every day.

“Local governments and relief missions should ensure that containers used for rationing water are clean to prevent contamination,“ Ona said.(PNA)

RMA/SDT/utb

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