By Erin Fee, Staff Writer & Researcher for Save The Water™ | November 5, 2018
With Hurricane Michael fresh in our minds, we must now discuss one of the far-reaching dangers that storms pose: flooding. In particular, we need to answer two questions:
- Why is the floodwater left in the wake of natural disasters so hazardous?
- How can cutting-edge water treatment methods combat this problem?
Threats from Floodwater
On top of the risks of drowning and structural damage, floodwater is teeming with dangerous contaminants. Contaminants can be any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or thing in water.1 This includes raw sewage, coal ash laden with arsenic and mercury, medical and industrial waste, and oil. According to the Centers for Disease Control, contact with floodwater can result in infections, diarrhea, skin rashes, tetanus, and the potentially severe and long-lasting bacterial disease leptospirosis.2,3
Seven Things You Can Do Around Floodwater
The Centers for Disease Control recommend several precautions:2
– Protect wounds from exposure.
– If you come into contact with floodwater, clean the area immediately with soap and clean water. Alcohol-based wipes or sanitizer will also do in a pinch.
– Clean wet clothes with hot water and detergent.
– Do not let children play with toys that came into contact with floodwater until the toys are disinfected.
– If an object in floodwater breaks the skin, seek professional consultation because you could need a tetanus shot.
– Do not drive through flooded areas.
– Check local advisories before drinking or bathing in tap water.
The Environmental Protection Agency also recommends that those who experience an upset stomach, headaches, or flu-like symptoms after exposure to floodwater seek medical attention.4 Floodwater poses an increased risk to young because they crawl and put things in their mouths.
As you can see, natural disasters such as hurricanes take a heavy toll on the planet’s drinkable water supply. Yet water is a finite resource. In other words, we as humans cannot afford to dismiss our increasing amount of contaminated water as a lost cause.
Instead, we must discover and develop water purification processes. These processes need to be affordable, efficient, comprehensive, and reliable. “Decontaminate” means to take out contaminants such as raw sewage. At Save the Water,TM we have found great potential in electroflocculation as a means to decontaminate large volumes of water.
Electroflocculation as a Water Treatment
In September, we explained how electricity is being used to remove contaminants from wastewater. In short, an electrical current is run through wastewater containing electrodes. Aluminum ions are commonly used. The ensuing reaction creates bubbles that carry contaminants up and out of the water.
The electroflocculation process is truly groundbreaking for several reasons.5 The process removes and destroys a wide range of contaminants:
– FOG’s (fats, oils, and greases)
– TSS’s (total suspended solids)
– VOC’s, (volatile organic compounds)
– BOD’s (biological oxygen demand)
Electroflocculation also reduces COD (chemical oxygen demand).
These factors make electroflocculation a frontrunner in the race for large-scale water decontamination. Now, scientists are working to develop the ideal electroflocculation system. At Save the Water,TM we are contributing to these innovations with eFLOCTM. The inventors of eFLOCTM developed it with durability and mobility in mind. Therefore, it can fit inside a 53 ft shipping container.6
The eFLOCTM and other technologies by Save the WaterTM meet U.S. Drinking Water Standards and are available for licensing.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. September 29, 2016. “Definition of ‘Contaminant.’” EPA. https://www.epa.gov/ccl/definition-contaminant
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 13, 2018. “Floodwater after a Disaster or Emergency.” CDC. https://bit.ly/2IZSCAX
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Signs and Symptoms.” CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/symptoms/index.html
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. March 28, 2018. “Flooding.” EPA. https://www.epa.gov/natural-disasters/flooding
- April Day. September 9, 2018. “Electroflocculation: Cheap, Safe, and Effective Way to Treat Polluted Water.” Save the Water™. https://bit.ly/2JllvaW
- Save the Water™. 2018. “First Quarter Report-2018.” STW™. http://savethewater.org/reports/