Disinfecting drinking water is critical to protecting consumers from disease-causing microorganisms, called pathogens, including bacteria or viruses. Disinfectants are very effective at inactivating (or killing) pathogens and have enormously benefited public health. For example, the incidence of typhoid fever was reduced by 1000-fold in the US in the last century by implementing the disinfection of drinking water.
Even with the advancements in drinking water disinfection practices and decreased incidence of diseases like typhoid fever and cholera in the US, disinfection of public drinking water remains critical for public health. Recent failures to adequately disinfect water have led to high-profile illness outbreaks and deaths (for example, the 1991 Peru cholera epidemic and the 2000 Walkerton, Canada bacterial outbreak).