Hazardous Fluids Msvxb

a. Survivors have occasionally attempted to augment their water supply with other fluids, such as alcoholic beverages, urine, blood, or seawater. While it is true that each of these fluids has a high water content, the impurities they contain may require the body to expend more fluid to purify them. Some hazardous fluids are:

(1) Sea water. Sea water in more than minimal quantities is actually toxic. The concentration of sodium and magnesium salts is so high that fluid must be drawn from the body to eliminate the salts and eventually the kidneys cease to function.

(2) Alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the body and clouds judgment. Super-cooled liquid, if ingested, can cause immediate frostbite of the throat, and potential death.

(3) Blood. Blood, besides being salty, is a food. Drinking it will require the body to expend additional fluid to digest it.

(4) Urine. Drinking urine is not only foolish, but also dangerous. Urine is nothing more than the body's waste. Drinking it only places this waste back into the body, which requires more fluid to process it again.

4. WATER QUALITY. Water contains minerals, toxins, and pathogens. Some of these, consumed in large enough quantities may be harmful to human health. Pathogens are our primary concern. Pathogens are divided into Virus, Cysts, Bacteria, and Parasites. Certain pathogens are more resistant to chemicals and small enough to move through microscopic holes in equipment (i.e., T-shirt, parachute). Certain pathogens also have the ability to survive in extremely cold water temperatures. Pathogens generally do not live in snow and ice. Water quality is divided into three levels of safety with disinfection as the most desired level, then purified, followed by potable.

a. Disinfection. Water disinfection removes or destroys harmful microorganisms. Giardia cysts are an ever-present danger in clear appearing mountain water throughout the world. By drinking non-potable water you may contract diseases or swallow organisms that could harm you. Examples of such diseases or organisms are: Dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid, Flukes, and Leeches.

b. Remember, impure water, no matter how overpowering the thirst, is one of the worst hazards in a survival situation.

c. The first step in disinfecting is to select a treatment method. The two methods we will discuss are as follows: (MSVX.02.03c)

(1) Heat. The Manual of Naval Preventive Medicine (P-5010) states that you must bring the water to a rolling boil before it is considered safe for human consumption. This is the most preferred method.

(a) Bringing water to the boiling point will kill 99.9% of all Giardia cysts. The Giardia cyst dies at 60OC and Cryptosporidium dies at 65C. Water will boil at 14,000' at 86OC and at 10,000' at 90C. With this in mind you should note that altitude does not make a difference unless you are extremely high.

(2) Chemicals. There are numerous types of chemicals that can disinfect water. Below are a few of the most common. In a survival situation, you will use whatever you have available.

(a) Iodine Tablets.

(b) Chlorine Bleach.

(c) Iodine Solution.

(d) Betadine Solution.

(e) Military water purification tablets. (MSVX.02.03d) These tablets are standard issue for all DOD agencies. These tablets have a shelf-life of four years from the date of manufacture, unless opened. Once the seal is broken, they have a shelf-life of one year, not to exceed the initial expiration date of four years.


Month / Year / Batch Number

(3) Water Disinfection Techniques and Halogen Doses.

Iodination techniques

Amount for

Amount for

Added to 1 liter or quart of water

4 ppm

8 ppm

Iodine tablets

Tetraglcine hydroperiodide EDWGT

Potable Aqua


/ tablet

1 tablet

2% iodine solution (tincture)

0.2 ml

0.4 ml

5 gtts

10 gtts

10% povidone-iodine solution*

0.35 ml

0.70 ml

8 gtts

16 gtts

Chlorination techniques

Amount for

Amount for

5 ppm

10 ppm

Household bleach 5%

0.1 Ml

0.2 ml

Sodium hypochlorie

2 gtts

Sodium dichloroisocyanurate

1 tablet

AquaCure, AquaPure, Chlor-floc Chlorine plus flocculating agent

8 ppm 1 tablet

*Providone-iodine solutions release free iodine in levels adequate for disinfection, but scant data is available.

Measure with dropper (1 drop=0.05 ml) or tuberculin syringe Ppm-part per million gtts-drops ml-milliliter Concentration of Contact time in minutes at various water temperatures (WSVX.02.03e)


5 C / 40 F

15 C / 60 F

30C/85 F

2 ppm




4 ppm




8 ppm




Note: These contact times have been extended from the usual recommendations to account for recent data that prolonged contact time is needed in very cold water to kill Giardia cysts.

Note: These contact times have been extended from the usual recommendations to account for recent data that prolonged contact time is needed in very cold water to kill Giardia cysts.

Note: chemicals may not destroy Cryptosporidium.

d. Purification. Water purification is the removal of organic and inorganic chemicals and particulate matter, including radioactive particles. While purification can eliminate offensive color, taste, and odor, it may not remove or kill microorganisms.

(1) Filtration. Filtration purifying is a process by which commercial manufacturers build water filters. The water filter is a three tier system. The first layer, or grass layer, removes the larger impurities. The second layer, or sand layer, removes the smaller impurities. The final layer, or charcoal layer (not the ash but charcoal from a fire), bonds and holds the toxins. All layers are placed on some type of straining device and the charcoal layer should be at least 5-6 inches thick. Layers should be changed frequently and straining material should be boiled. Remember, this is not a disinfecting method, cysts can possibly move through this system.

(2) Commercial Water Filters. Commercial water filters are generally available in most retail stores and may be with you. Understanding what the filter can do is the first step in safeguarding against future illnesses.

(a) A filter that has a .3 micron opening or larger will not stop Cryptosporidium.

(b) A filter system that does not release a chemical (i.e., iodine) may not kill all pathogens.

(c) A filter that has been overused may be clogged. Usage may result in excessive pumping pressure that can move harmful pathogens through the opening.

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