Zheng M, He C, He Q. Fate of free chlorine in drinking water during distribution in premise plumbing. Ecotoxicology. 2015 Sep 25.
Free chlorine is a potent oxidizing agent and has been used extensively as a disinfectant in processes including water treatment. The presence of free chlorine residual is essential for the prevention of microbial regrowth in water distribution systems. However, excessive levels of free chlorine can cause adverse health effects. It is a major challenge to maintain appropriate levels of free chlorine residual in premise plumbing. As the first effort to assessing the fate of chlorine in premise plumbing using actual premise plumbing pipe sections, three piping materials frequently used in premise plumbing, i.e. copper, galvanized iron, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), were investigated for their performance in maintaining free chlorine residual. Free chlorine decay was shown to follow first-order kinetics for all three pipe materials tested. The most rapid chlorine decay was observed in copper pipes, suggesting the need for higher chlorine dosage to maintain appropriate levels of free chlorine residual if copper piping is used. PVC pipes exhibited the least reactivity with free chlorine, indicative of the advantage of PVC as a premise plumbing material for maintaining free chlorine residual. The reactivity of copper piping with free chlorine was significantly hindered by the accumulation of pipe deposits. In contrast, the impact on chlorine decay by pipe deposits was not significant in galvanized iron and PVC pipes. Findings in this study are of great importance for the development of effective strategies for the control of free chlorine residual and prevention of microbiological contamination in premise plumbing.