Is Chlorine Effective Against Giardia Lamblia in Drinking Water?

While ‘Giardia Lamblia’ may sound like some fictional creature from a sci-fi movie, it’s a real and serious threat to drinking water quality. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that it’s one the major culprits behind those nasty waterborne disease outbreaks happening right now in the United States, affecting over one million people each year.

Now, we don’t mean to scare you, but we can’t underestimate the dangers of this microscopic parasite. What we can do, though, is figure how to keep it far away from our precious drinking water supplies. And that’s where the good old chlorine comes in.

Chlorine has been the to-go solution for tackling microbiological issues in water. But how effective is it against Giardia? Before we get into that, let’s take a moment to explore what Giardia Lamblia is, where it comes from, how it gets into drinking water, and the not-so-fun symptoms associated with exposure.

What is Giardia Lamblia?

Now, you might be wondering, “What on earth is Giardia Lamblia?” It’s certainly not some extraterrestrial creature from a movie, but tiny parasites that live in human and animal intestines. According to Mayo Clinic, “Before the microscopic parasites are passed in the stool, they become encased within hard shells called cysts, which allows them to survive outside the intestines for months. Once inside a host, the cysts dissolve, and the parasites are released.”

Where Does Giardia Lamblia Come From?

Giardia can be found on various surfaces, in soil, food, and even water contaminated with feces from infected individuals or animals. This cunning parasite spreads quickly, moving from person to person or through contact with contaminated materials. Commonly, people fall ill by unknowingly ingesting contaminated drinking water or swallowing or swimming in recreational waters, such as lakes, rivers, or pools.

How Exactly Do Giardia Parasites Get into Water?

When a human or animal is infected with Giardia Lamblia, the parasites are excreted in their stool and have sneaky ways of entering our drinking water sources.

Here’s how it happens:

  • Rain or other water runoff can wash the cysts from contaminated areas into rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, known drinking water sources. They act as a potential gateway for these parasites to enter public water supply systems, and from there, into our homes.
  • Ground and surface water can become infected with Giardia from agricultural runoff, wastewater discharge, sewage overflows, or animal feces. During heavy rainfall or a flood, the cysts may leach into water wells, possibly entering the water supply.
  • Not even recreational water venues like swimming pools, hot tubs, or natural bodies of water are safe from Giardia Lamblia. Children in diapers and people with diarrhea may accidentally contaminate pools and spas, turning your fun swimming sessions and relaxing spa days into potential sources of infection.

Symptoms of Giardia Exposure in Drinking Water

So, what happens if you’re exposed to Giardia? One expected outcome is giardiasis, the US’s most common intestinal parasitic infection. If you get infected with Giardia, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • dehydration
  • stomach cramps or pain
  • upset stomach
  • weight loss
  • gas
  • bloating
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • episodes of watery diarrhea

These symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after exposure but can last longer or recur in some people. Some individuals may not show signs but can still carry the parasite and pass it on to others through their stool.

Children are especially vulnerable to these infections than adults, as they tend to come in contact with feces more often, particularly if they wear diapers, are in potty training, or spend time in childcare centers. People who live or work closely with small children also have a higher risk of developing a giardia infection. So, if you experience these symptoms after swallowing water from your tap, a lake, pool, pond, or river, reach out to a doctor immediately.

Giardia infection is also widespread in areas with inadequate sanitation, or the water isn’t safe to drink. You’re at risk if you travel to places where giardia infection is common—especially in rural or wilderness areas—and aren’t careful about what you eat and drink.

How To Test for Giardia in Water

Unfortunately, you can’t tell if Giardia parasites are present in your water by looking at, smelling, or tasting it. Even if the water looks cloudy, has an odd color, or smells foul, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s Giardia Lamblia present. To be sure, it’s best to get your water professionally tested by a certified laboratory.

Laboratory testing usually involves the following steps:

  1. Purchase a water test kit: Look for a reliable water test kit online or at local stores. Make sure it includes a specific test for Giardia Lamblia. These kits usually have clear instructions and everything you need to collect a sample.
  2. Collect a water sample: Follow the instructions in the kit to collect a water sample. Usually, you’ll need to fill a clean container directly from your water source, like a faucet or well. Take care not to contaminate the sample during collection.
  3. Send the sample to a certified laboratory: Follow the kit’s instructions for proper storage and shipping once you have the sample. Make sure it’s sealed tightly and return it to the laboratory for analysis. Check the recommended shipping method and timeframe to keep the sample intact.
  4. Await the results: The laboratory will analyze the sample for the presence of Giardia Lamblia. It may take a few hours to a few days to get the results, depending on the laboratory’s process.
  5. Interpret the findings: When you receive the results, carefully review them. The laboratory will provide reliable information about whether or not Giardia parasites were found in your water. They may also report on other potential contaminants they tested for.
  6. Take appropriate actions: If Giardia Lamblia is detected, contact local health authorities, water professionals, or plumbers for guidance. They can help you determine the best ways to purify and treat your water to make it safe for drinking.

Learn more: 10 Common Problems a Water Test Can Detect in Tap Water

Does Chlorine Kill Giardia in Drinking Water?

Most municipal water systems disinfect water with chlorine to destroy harmful microbes. When chlorine is added to the water, it attacks and damages the outer shell of the parasites. This process, known as oxidation, stops them from functioning correctly, thus making the water safer to drink and use.

But according to a 2019 study, “Both, Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts are resilient and may survive in water for months. In addition, they are known to be resistant to chemical disinfection.” The CDC also says, “Chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia….”

Not only is chlorine ineffective against Giardia, but some people don’t like the chemical-like smell or taste that lingers in chlorine-treated water. There are also concerns about disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Chlorine can react with organic matter in the water and create DBPs, such as trihalomethanes (THMs). These compounds can be dangerous if consumed in high concentrations over a long time.

Chlorine sure has its benefits—no doubt about that. But based on scientific studies, such as this one, ultraviolet (UV) disinfection offers a more reliable, efficient, and effective solution for removing Cryptosporidium and Giardia from water. This technology involves using a powerful ultraviolet light to damage the DNA of germs, “deactivating” them and stopping them from reproducing. It’s an excellent choice to ensure your drinking water is microbe-free while avoiding the concerns linked to chlorine treatment.

Learn more: Chlorine in Drinking Water: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Purifying Your Well Water with Chlorine: Is it the Safest Option?

Best UV Water Filter To Remove Giardia from Drinking Water

The Springwell UV Water Purification System is one of the most reliable, affordable, and practical solutions for removing Giardia and other microbes from your water supply. This advanced system uses UV (ultraviolet) technology to control microbiological issues in water.

With such a system in your home, you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Destroys most waterborne microbes: You can have peace of mind knowing that the system will eliminate 99.9% of harmful pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, safeguarding you and your family from giardiasis, Cryptosporidiosis, Hepatitis A, and other dangerous diseases caused by contaminated drinking water.
  • Cost-effective and requires low maintenance: UV systems generally consume very little energy, and the bulbs only need to be replaced every year. The Springwell UV Water Purification System is no exception.
  • Safe and uses no chemicals (environmentally friendly): UV systems provide chemical-free water disinfection.
  • No impact on taste or odor: These systems provide safer, tastier water for your family without affecting its taste or smell.
  • Uses FDA-approved technology: UV water purification is one of four methods approved for disinfection by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • High flow rate: This powerful system boasts a high 15 GPM flow rate and 30mj/cm2 intensity, ensuring little to no decrease in water flow.
  • Troubleshoot issues quickly: What also sets the Springwell UV System apart is its state-of-the-art UVC5-15 series controller. It is designed for convenience and has a colorful interface that provides easy visual identification of remaining lamp life, error codes, and system diagnostics. Furthermore, the system incorporates QR codes for quick access to lamp change information and instructional videos.

To ensure optimal performance and preserve the longevity of your UV system, we recommend installing a sediment filter before the UV unit to prevent debris or particles from interfering with the system and voiding its warranty.

Learn more: Best Water Filtration System to Remove Bacteria & Viruses from Water

Final Thoughts

The potential threat of Giardia Lamblia to drinking water quality isn’t something we should take lightly. Year after year, it causes widespread outbreaks, affecting many Americans. While chlorine is widely used for water disinfection, it falls short in effectively combating this persistent parasite. Thankfully, UV disinfection provides a more reliable and efficient solution to remove Giardia and other harmful pathogens from our drinking water.

For those seeking optimal protection against microbial pollutants, the Springwell UV Water Purification System is an exceptional choice. Its ability to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes without relying on chemicals ensures clean and safe drinking water—No more unpleasant taste and smell of chlorine in your water. Moreover, this system offers a high flow rate and innovative troubleshooting features for quick and easy problem detection.

If you want to learn more about the Springwell UV Water Purification System or our other top-notch water filtration systems, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can call us at 800-589-5592 or send us a message via chat.