When Did Water Filtration Begin?
There are many different reasons why people first started to purify their drinking water. One of the most common was that they wanted better-tasting water. The earliest methods of water treatment ranged from heating and sand and gravel filtration to boiling and straining, though it wasn’t until 1500 BC that the Egyptians discovered a new way to clarify water: coagulation.
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This method involves applying alum to suspended particles that cause them to settle, which can then be skimmed from the top of the container. The earliest pictures of this technique are found on the walls of the tombs of Amenophis II and Ramses II.
Another reason that early settlers decided to filter their water was that they were concerned about the turbidity of the water. Turbidity was a sign that there might be chemical contaminants or microorganisms in the water.
Those who drank unfiltered water were more likely to get sick, especially from diseases like cholera and typhoid. As a result, people started building water treatment facilities and using multiple filtration methods, including water chlorination.
The chlorination of water was a huge breakthrough, as it made it easier to disinfect the water in the case of an outbreak. However, experts soon realized that chlorine had its drawbacks: it could vaporize into the air and cause respiratory illness.
As a result, experts developed alternative ways to disinfect the water, such as ozone. By the 1890s, several towns and municipalities across the United States had built sand filters to purify water.
Once the sand filter became popular, it was found that those who used a sand filter were less likely to contract disease-causing illnesses than those who didn’t use a filter. As a result, more cities started building these water filtration systems and implementing stricter water regulations to protect the public from unhealthy water.
These systems eliminated a lot of the pathogens and chemicals in the water, but they also drained a lot of water. Because of this, it wasn’t long before it was clear that sand filtration was no longer the most effective way to filter water.
In the 1700s, Joseph Amy obtained a patent for a filter that incorporated wool, sponge, and charcoal layers to remove
unwanted bacteria and other particles from water. He patented the design in 1750, and these filters were soon available for purchase.
A major improvement on anything introduced before, the first home water filter was a considerable step forward for bringing clean, safe water to homes. It was a big step in the fight against diseases like cholera and typhoid, which can easily be spread by contaminated water.
It was also a significant improvement on the sand and gravel filtration that had been used in the past. It was a much faster and more efficient way to clean water, removing more impurities and making it safer for consumption.
By the mid-18th century, a cholera epidemic was breaking out in London. British scientists had discovered that water pumping stations were contaminated with sewage and that this contaminant was responsible for the outbreaks. In response, John Snow employed chlorine to disinfect the water, which helped the cholera epidemic break out less often.