With World Water Day upon us on March 22nd, we are reminded of its importance and how water links to all areas of life, from personal health through to commercial use. Clean water, and the ability to treat it, is essential to maintaining and improving life. So how do we do our bit to help?
Most of us take potable water for granted, whether it comes from the tap or from a water bottle. Unfortunately for millions the same cannot be said. UNICEF calculates that 36% of the world’s population lack improved sanitation facilities, while over 750 million use unsafe drinking water sources. The tide is turning though and with increased awareness, urbanisation, industrialisation and access to technology, water is becoming safer. India is racing to build toilets for 600 million people by 2019, roughly half the population, who currently lack access to clean water and flushing toilets. But as we develop provision and treatment, we must also think about the hazards they create.
Water purification and wastewater treatment processes produce a wide variety of toxic and combustible gas hazards which must be assessed and monitored on a continuous basis. It is important to keep the workforce in these environments safe from potentially dangerous toxic gases such as chlorine (Cl2), ammonia (NH3), ozone (O3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2), all commonly used in the process of both clean and dirty water treatment. Microbial action and displacement can deplete oxygen levels, increasing the risk of asphyxiation in storage and processing areas as well as the multitude of confined spaces both on-site and within sewage systems. The build up and storage of flammable gases are also prevalent risks as initiatives are introduced to reduce energy costs and emissions, with many sewage plants capturing methane from digesters to power processes and generate electricity.
As countries invest in the infrastructure to provide these important resources for processing water in to fit state for discharge or consumption, it is equally critical that they also invest in the systems that will keep their workers safe in these hazardous working environments. Crowcon contributes to keeping the water industry safe by protecting plant and personnel from gas risks, specifically for those working in treatment plants as well as maintenance and repair activities.
More information on World Water Day 2015.