Letters: The battle of the chemists

Friday August 16, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor
Letters: The battle of the chemists

I must correct some of the statements made by Rodney Fletcher in his letter to the editor. When comparing different products, it is very important to have all the facts.


The Safety data sheet quoted by Papa Williams in his letter of the 7th August, is factually correct and defines the danger of Hypochlorite.

 If managed strictly according to the Code of Practice, then Hypochlorite can and has been used as a water disinfectant for many years. However, we live in a real world and mistakes can and do happen.

In February this year, Pawawai School in Thames, New Zealand had the area cordoned off by the Fire Brigade whilst they decontaminated the area following a "Chlorine spillage".

The caretaker had made the simple mistake of treating the school pool with acid and then forgetting to rinse out his bucket before adding calcium hypochlorite. The result was Chlorine gas, which is highly toxic. Eighteen people were taken to hospital for treatment.

Papa Williams correctly pointed out that new technology is available - Electro-chemistry that removes the chance of such a mistake happening. He goes on to suggest that there should be open debate to learn about and understand what options for disinfection exist today, so that everyone can make informed decisions about how they want Cook Islands water to be disinfected.

Anolyte is NOT a brand name - the particular form of Anolyte being talked about in the Cook Islands is Envirolyte - ANK Neutral Anolyte, which is a brand name and uses patented technology.

Rodney Fletcher claims that chlorination which he attributes to Hypochlorous acid (and ignores the presence of hypochlorite ions) is the cheapest and most effective for of water disinfection. He is ignoring the fact that so many scientific papers and real world testing by research organisations have proven Anolyte to be 80-100 more effective that hypochlorite.

He also ignores the fact that many cities worldwide are changing from Hypochlorite disinfection to Anolyte, giving the reasons as safety and cost.

There are many technical reasons why the products are different, but perhaps the most convincing argument is a simple Comparison of the two products.

 If they were the same why is the Safety data sheet for ANK Neutral Anolyte so different to the Safety Data Sheet quoted by Papa Williams?


At Maximum concentration (100%) ANK Neutral Anolyte is specified in the MSDS as:-

Non-dangerous according to 88/279/EWG)

In its strongest form MAY cause irritation to the eyes

MAY cause slight irritation to open wounds

MAY cause irritation to the throat and digestive tract if swallowed

First Aid                     -                                 Flush with clean water

Firefighting measures                      -       None


Clearly Anolyte is NOT the same as Hypochlorite.

Another simple test is to compare the behaviour of the two products


Hypochlorite (Chemical)                 Anolyte (Electro-Chemical)

• Dangerous Good                                        • 100% safe

• Slow – needs 20 min contact time          • Fast Acting (10-60 sec)

• Leaves toxic by-products                          • By-products salt and water

• Special handling                                         • No Special handling

• Does not kill crypto & giardia                   • Kills crypto & giardia

• Difficult to use                                             • Simple to use

Rodney Fletcher does not appear to understand why Electro-chemistry produces chemical reactions that are not obtainable from conventional chemistry. I do admit that this is a highly technical subject and the scientific papers are heavy reading. However, the physical properties speak for themselves, and in practice the important thing is to know that the process works and that it is much more effective that traditional disinfection methods. How it works is a "nice to know" for most users.

-Ian Calhaem.

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