Perhaps no other advancement of public health has been as significant. Yet, few know the intriguing story of a simple idea—disinfecting public water systems with chlorine—that in just 110 years has saved more lives than any other health development in human history.
At the turn of the 20th century, most scientists and doctors called the addition of chloride of lime, a poisonous chemical, to public water supplies not only a preposterous idea but also an illegal act—until a courageous physician, working with the era’s greatest sanitary engineer, proved it could be done safely and effectively on a large scale.
This is the first book to tell the incredible true story of the first use of chlorine to disinfect a city water supply, in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1908. This important book also corrects misinformation long-held in the historical record about who was responsible for this momentous event, giving overdue recognition to the true hero of the story—an unflagging champion of public health, Dr. John L. Leal.
Featured on the PBS Series and book: How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson