This chemical element doubled the life expectancy of man

Sarah Romero

Throughout history, there have been many advances and discoveries Human life expectancy has improved significantly. Among them, of course, we must highlight the advances in vaccination, antibiotics and surgery, but there is another innovation that is often overlooked: Use of chlorine as a disinfectant.

This chemical element doubled the life expectancy of manMidjourney / Sarah Romero

a little history

chlorine, a chemical element with the symbol Cl (and atomic number 17), It was first officially discovered in 1774 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. When studying the properties of hydrochloric acid. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that its potential as a disinfectant was discovered. There is a name of an English doctor in this regard, sir. John Snow (not the one from Game of Thrones, of course, but his real-life name), who gained recognition for his work identifying the source of the cholera outbreak in London in 1854. Snow found that the contaminated water from the Broad Street Pump in London’s Soho district was the cause of the cholera outbreak. And this discovery laid the foundation for understanding the importance of water sanitation.

By the mid-19th century, chlorine was widely used to purify drinking water and treat wastewater. Needless to say, the discovery of chlorine had a significant impact on the field of chemistry. This provided chemists with a new element to study and helped establish the concept of chemical elements as distinct entities.

chemistryMidjourney / Sarah Romero

Continuing the chlorine story, a little later, in the early 20th century, the American scientist John L. Loyal, bacteriologist Played a key role in the widespread adoption of chlorine disinfection. He was the first to apply chlorine to the public water supply in 1908 in Jersey City, New Jersey, which was suffering from a severe fecal contamination problem; Thus, neither small nor lazy, chlorinated drinking water, became the first to conduct the first large-scale chlorination of drinking water and save millions of lives. Since then, the use of chlorine as a disinfectant has become an important element in water treatment and has had a profound impact on public health.

effects on human health

use of chlorine as a disinfectant have changed the rules of the game in the fight against waterborne diseases. It has been helpful in reducing the spread of diseases like cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery. According to a study by Cutler and Miller, water chlorination was introduced in countries like the United States of America. It reduced infant mortality by 43% and overall mortality by 37% Between 1900 and 1936. In addition, chlorinated water has been shown to play an important role in reducing the transmission of other infectious diseases, such as Legionnaires’ disease (a severe type of pneumonia), which is caused by bacteria. Legionella pneumophila, Similarly, the presence of chlorine in swimming pools helps prevent the spread of recreational water diseases such as cryptosporidiosis (intestinal infection) and giardiasis (another intestinal disease).

The days are getting shorter on Mars.

The widespread use of chlorine in water treatment There is also an indirect benefit in human health. By providing a safe and reliable source of drinking water, chlorination has facilitated rapid urbanization and industrialization, which in turn has been linked to improvements in nutrition, housing, and general living conditions.

While some critics argue that chlorination byproducts such as trihalomethane can pose health risks, studies have shown that the benefits of chlorinated water far outweigh the potential risks associated with these byproducts, so chlorine remains a pillar in public health. It is cheap, easy to use and has proven effective in the ongoing fight against waterborne diseases.


  • Burkett, H., Faison, J., Kohl, H., Wheatley, W., Worley, S., & Bodor, N. (2010). (1981). A novel chloramine compound for water disinfection. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 17, 874–876.
  • Galal-Gorchev, H. (1996). Chlorine in water disinfection. Pure and Applied Chemistry, 68, 1731–1735.
  • Rajasingham, A., Hardy, C., Kamwaga, S., Sebunya, K., Massa, K., Mulungu, J., Martinson, A., Nyasani, E., Hulland, E., Russell, S., Blanton, C., Nygren, B., Edex, R., & Handzel, T. (2019). Evaluation of an emergency bulk chlorination project targeting drinking water vendors in cholera-affected wards of Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, Tanzania. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 100, 1335 – 1341.

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