PATERSON, N.J. — Happy birthday to Paterson's Dr. John L. Leal!
Leal was born May 5, 1858 and died March 13, 1914. He was 55.
Leal was a doctor that rose to prominence when he discovered chlorine could be used to disinfect drinking water to make otherwise undrinkable water consumable.
As a child, Leal moved with his family to Paterson, receiving his primary education at Paterson Seminary. He would continue his education at Princeton College, now Princeton University, and attended medical school at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Leal opened a medical practice in Paterson after college and was later appointed city physician in 1886.
Four years earlier, Leal's father died after suffering for 19 years from chronic amoebic dysentery, believed to be caused from consuming infected drinking water.
In 1887, Leal, along with other physicians, founded the outpatient clinic at Paterson General Hospital.
Leal also would receive appointments as health inspector in 1891 and health officer in 1892.
His use of chlorine disinfectant technology significantly reduced typhoid fever and other waterborne illnesses in the United States.
On September 26, 1908, Jersey City was the only city using chlorine to disinfect its water because of Leal's discovery, but a decade later more than 1,000 North American cities were using chlorine to disinfect the drinking water that served approximately 33 million people.
Leal would go on to serve as President of the Board of Health for City Of Paterson toward the end of his life.
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