Supplying Drinking Water

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions

Supplying Safe Drinking Water

  Did You Know?

  • Water covers 71% of Earth’s surface
  • Barely 1% is freshwater that people can use
  • It takes 39,000 gallons of water to make one car
  • A 5-minute shower uses 50-100 quarts of water
  • Water is the only substance that exists naturally as a solid, liquid, and gas
  • The United Nations declared 2005-2015 “Water for Life,” the International Decade for Action on water-related issues.
From San Diego to Santiago to Seville to Sydney, billions of people are facing shortages of clean water. More than one billion people have no access to clean drinking water. And things are getting worse. Save to delicious Save to delicious Digg this story Share on Facebook Stumble it

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Science for Kids

Hands on activities for young aspiring chemists


A magazine for high school students

  • The Quest for a Clean Drink
    In India and Bangladesh, drinking water is contaminated with arsenic. Three enterprising scientists have each recently devised a way to remove arsenic from drinking water. Discover how they did it.
  • Clean Water and Edward Frankland
    Today, we take for granted that our tap water is free of deadly germs. A century ago, Edward Frankland saved thousands of lives by showing Londoners how to safeguard their water supply.
  • Filtered vs. Straight from the Tap
    Our tap water may be safe to drink, but many of us prefer to filter it for a better taste. Do some tests to find out how filtered water and tapped water compare.
  • Swimming Pools
    Summertime, and the living is easy – if you know which chemicals will keep the swimming pool clean.
  • Wastewater
    Yesterday’s bath water is today’s crystal clear drinking water, thanks to chemists at the wastewater treatment plant.

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS®)

SciFinder®, a research tool produced by CAS (a division of the American Chemical Society), found 6381 references in the CAS databases on the topic of "water purification" published this year. The CAS databases cover references from more than 10,000 major scientific journals and 57 patent authorities worldwide. As an illustration of the global interest in this topic, approximately 23% of these references were Chinese and Japanese patent applications.

In the News


  • Baker M.N., Taras M.J., 1981, The quest for pure water – The history of the twentieth century, volume I and II, Denver: AWWA
  • Christman K., 1998, The history of chlorine, Waterworld 14: page 66-67
  • Crittenden J.C., Rhodes Trussell R., Hand D.W., Howe K.J., Tchobanoglous G., 2005, Water treatment: Principles and design, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Diodorus Siculus, 1939, Library of history, volume III, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, UK
  • EPA, 2000, The history of drinking water treatment, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water (4606), Fact Sheet EPA-816-F-00-006, United States
  • Outwater A., 1996, Water: A natural history, Basic Books, New York, USA

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Learn more about how important chemistry is in our daily lives through articles, hands on activities, and resources to use in the classroom.