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Adoption of Point-of-Use Chlorination for Household Drinking Water Treatment: A Systematic Review

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license


Centralized chlorination of urban piped water supplies has historically contributed to major reductions in waterborne illness. In locations without effective centralized water treatment, point-of-use (POU) chlorination for households is widely promoted to improve drinking water quality and health. Realizing these health benefits requires correct, consistent, and sustained product use, but real-world evaluations have often observed low levels of use. To our knowledge, no prior reviews exist on adoption of chlorine POU products.


Our objectives were to identify which indicators of adoption are most often used in chlorine POU studies, summarize levels of adoption observed, understand how adoption changes over time, and determine how adoption is affected by frequency of contact between participants and study staff.


We conducted a systematic review of household POU chlorination interventions or programs from 1990 through 2021 that reported a quantitative measure of adoption, were conducted in low- and middle-income countries, included data collection at households, and reported the intervention start date.


We identified 36 studies of household drinking water chlorination products that met prespecified eligibility criteria and extracted data from 46 chlorine intervention groups with a variety of chlorine POU products and locations. There was no consensus definition of adoption of household water treatment; the most common indicator was the proportion of household stored water samples with free chlorine residual >0.1 or  0.2mg/L. Among studies that reported either free or total chlorine-confirmed adoption of chlorine POU products, use was highly variable (across all chlorine intervention groups at the last time point measured in each study; range: 1.5%-100%; sample size-weighted median=47%; unweighted median=58%). The median follow-up duration among intervention groups was 3 months. On average, adoption declined over time and was positively associated with frequency of contact between respondents and study staff.


Although prior research has shown that POU chlorine products improve health when correctly and consistently used, a reliance on individual adoption for effective treatment is unlikely to lead to the widespread public health benefits historically associated with pressurized, centralized treatment of piped water supplies.

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