Editor’s Note: Gazette columnist Tiger Tom penned this piece as part of Gazette #44’s issue pleading compassion for the world’s wee folk. This is as compassionate as Tiger Tom ever gets.

Some Ethical Ramifications of Water Purification

A Scholarly Review of Existing Sanitation Methodology

by Tiger Tom


The Chinese spread their sewage on the ground and get worms in their guts from drinking contaminated water and eating filthy food. We in the Western world are more civilized–we take our sewage and dump it into our rivers. We then drain it into our water supply, strain it and inject chlorine into it. We don’t get worms in our guts, but we sure do get something else.–Dr. Joseph M. Price, M.D.

Some people get really steamed up when they talk about the hurt that chlorine puts on birds and beasts and plants and people, but I haven’t seen them shedding tears over bleach’s biggest sufferers. I mean the tiny water-dwellers that chlorine fries by the trillions of trillions. Having had the shits a few times myself, I’m no big amigo of bacteria. But let’s be fair. The little gut-dwellers are only doing their job. And a nasty job it is. I say they deserve a better fate than chemical warfare.

Being kind to little water creatures isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s them or us. When people started bleaching the water around 1904, diseases like cholera and typhoid fell quickly in the disease ratings. Doctors tried to take the credit, but it was really Clorox that did the damage. Bleach is a poison, and in water it mixes with other stuff and makes about a bezillion new poisons, which scientists call THMs. THMs cause cancer. Now we have a lot less cholera and a lot more cancer. And they keep putting in more bleach.

Some things aren’t killed by bleach. Probably you’ve heard of Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia. Crypto gave half of Milwaukee a very sick belly not long ago. A lot of people died. Bleach doesn’t even stun these boys. But they are giants, so it’s easy to trap them in a filter, which is really just a fishing net. Cryptos are so big that a fairly tight filter nabs them. That’s why I, Tiger Tom, say that it is easier for a rich man riding a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a Crypto to pass through a Doulton ceramic cartridge.

The public plan for bacteria has always been to fry them in bleach. There are other ways, though most aren’t any kinder. Iodine poisons them, and ozone fries them crisper than chlorine. Ceramic filters are 99.99% effective at snaring them. Even tight carbon filters strain them out, but carbon filter makers don’t brag in their ads about bacteria removal because it’s risky. Someone gets sick, calls his lawyer, and you’re screwed.

The kindest way to make water safe, and the way that I, Tiger Tom, recommend to my friends and closest relatives, is ultraviolet (UV) light. That’s how sunlight purifies water in a mountain brook. It leaves no chemicals behind. UV purifiers work by passing water close to an ultraviolet lamp, which looks like a fluorescent bulb, inside a quartz tube. After a trip past the magic lamp, the nastiest germs are as polite as shoe salesmen.

The interesting part is that the experts know that UV light stops bacteria, but they don’t really know how. Some just say it “stuns” the boys and leave it at that. They usually say something like this, which I, Tiger Tom, copied from aWater Technology article I read while I was using the bathroom:

“UV alters the genetic information of microbes, thereby inhibiting the metabolic processes including their ability to replicate.” The boy who wrote that was trying to say that the light screws up their sex life. They stop reproducing. In water treatment, if a microbe can’t reproduce it is legally dead. If human people followed this logic, they could collect on their insurance if they had a vasectomy. The logic with bacteria is, if they can’t reproduce, they can’t hurt you.

This explanation of UV light is the equivalent of the old “spay/ neuter” business. I, Tiger Tom, do not buy it. I have my own theory of how UV works. I say it’s related to all the other miraculous events that have to do with light. Scientists invented the neutering story because they aren’t allowed to talk about miracles. Science is a miracle-free religion. Unless they want you to believe some weird thing like the HIV story, which takes a lot more faith than the Virgin of Guadalupe business.

Probably you know the story of the big Christian persecutor Saul who got turned into the apostle Paul by a big light. He was on his way to Damascus one day to hassle Christians when a giant light whammed him. He was blind for a few days; then he was a changed man. I, Tiger Tom, say that this is what happens to bacteria. They aren’t neutered; they are converted. They see the light. Just imagine these darkness-loving little gut-dwellers, floating along happy as bunnies in the friendly blackness of a cool water pipe, doing their thing, feeding on slime,  replicating wildly, when suddenly they come around a bend and it hits them, as bright as a thousand suns, a light of about a zillion Angstrom units. This is clearly a miracle. Never in the annals of Bacteriadom has a light appeared in a water pipe. They fall to their little knees and kowtow wildly. They stop replicating and causing diarrhea and spend the rest of their short lives meditating. If they quit reproducing, it isn’t because their DNA is screwed. It’s because they’ve become celibate. St. Paul quit replicating after he saw the light, didn’t he?

If you have bacteria you want converted, call PURE WATER PRODUCTS for the very best: UV systems. They’ve got Pura and they’ve got Sterilight. They’ve got everything from countertops to whole house styles, priced from not much to a whole lot.