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Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality (WHO – 2011)

September 20, 2011 by   ·   No comments

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This fourth edition of the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality builds on over 50 years of guidance by WHO on drinking-water quality, which has formed an authoritative basis for the setting of national regulations and standards for water safety in support of public health. It is the product of significant revisions to clarify and elaborate on ways of implementing its recommendations of contextual hazard identification and risk management, through the establishment of health-based targets, catchments-to-consumer water safety plans and independent surveillance.
WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality calls on governments to strengthen their management of drinking-water quality by adopting a “Water Safety Planning” approach, when implemented by individual countries this approach can yield significant and sustainable improvements in public health. It requires a paradigm shift in drinking-water management for many countries. The Guidelines compel water suppliers to systematically assess the potential risk of contaminants to enter water, from the catchments to the consumer, take action based on their findings, and document the process. The Guidelines are regarded globally as the most authoritative framework on drinking-water quality and often form the basis for national laws and regulations. In addition to highlighting common challenges in providing safe and clean water, the Guidelines map out new solutions. For the first time, comprehensive good practice recommendations are provided for all levels, from household rainwater harvesting and safe storage through to policy advice on bulk water supply and the implications of climate change.
The new Guidelines also include recommendations on:
• drinking-water safety, including minimum procedures, specific guideline values and how these should be used;
• microbial hazards, which continue to be the primary concern in both developing and developed countries;
• climate change, which results in changing water temperature and rainfall patterns, severe and prolonged drought or increased flooding, and its implications for water quality and water scarcity, recognizing the importance of managing these impacts as part of water management strategies;
• chemical contaminants in drinking-water, including information on chemicals not considered previously such as pesticides used for disease vector control in stored drinking-water;
• Key chemicals responsible for large-scale health effects through drinking-water exposure, including arsenic, fluoride and lead, and chemicals of public concern such as nitrate, selenium, uranium and disinfection-by-products.

“Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality” includes hundreds of risk assessments on specific waterborne hazards and have been updated based on the latest scientific evidence. For the first time this also includes specific guidance on emerging contaminants of concern in drinking-water. The new Guidelines’ emphasis on a preventive and holistic approach in the safe management of drinking water quality is timely in light of the emerging challenges that the world faces.
The Guidelines were launched at the Singapore International Water Week (4-8 July 2011), the global platform for water solutions that brings together policy-makers, industry leaders, experts and practitioners to address challenges, showcase new technologies, discover opportunities and celebrate achievements in the water arena.


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