Abstract

Successful implementation of chlorination for disinfecting community water systems in developing countries faces obstacles, with rejection of chlorinous flavor as a significant factor. Determining consumers' abilities to accurately detect chlorine in treated water is important to identifying acceptable chlorination levels that are also effective for water disinfection. Chlorine detection sensitivity was tested in untrained Ecuadorian consumers with limited prior experience with chlorinated water and US consumers with extensive prior experience with chlorinated water. Water samples with free chlorine concentrations up to 3.0 mg/L were presented for flavor testing. Ecuadorian consumers showed higher sensitivity, being able to detect chlorination at 2.0 and 3.0 mg/L, while US consumers did not reliably detect chlorine presence for any concentration levels. Additionally, Ecuadorian consumers' rejection of water samples depended on chlorination, showing a statistically significant increase in rejections of samples with chlorine concentrations above 1.0 mg/L. On the other hand, although US consumers rejected more samples overall, their tendency to reject did not vary as a function of chlorination levels. This study demonstrated that limited experience with chlorination is a critical factor for accurate chlorine flavor detection in drinking water.

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