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      How Safe is Your Drinking Water?  >  Contaminants Resulting from Municipal Additives  >  Chlorine Byproducts

Contaminants Resulting from Municipal Additives - Chlorine Byproducts

In 1972, chloroform, a particularly deadly poison, was detected in chlorinated drinking water. This detection sparked numerous epidemiological studies. The proponents of such studies intended to investigate the potential health risks of drinking chlorinated water. As a result of these epidemiological studies, scientists discovered a large number of chlorine byproducts found within chlorinated drinking water. Chlorine, in addition to killing or inactivating pathogens in water, reacts with natural organic matter and/or the chemical compound bromide in water to produce various organic and inorganic byproducts. These byproducts include bromate, chlorite, haloacetic acids (HAA5), and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs).

Many epidemiological studies indicated an association between ingestion of chlorinated water and occurrences of bladder cancer and rectal cancer. A 1991 report, a compilation of 12 different studies, indicated that 9% of bladder cancer cases and 15% of rectal cancer cases in the United States. could be attributed to chlorinated water and chlorine byproducts (Xie, 2004). These numbers translate to 10,000 cases of cancer a year that can be credited to chlorinated water!

Each of the four main chlorine byproducts contributes to increased cases of bladder and rectal cancer, but some byproducts lead to other adverse health effects, as well. Chlorite can cause anemia in infants and young children It can also affect nervous system functioning in both children and adults. TTHMs can cause nervous system problems, in addition to triggering kidney and liver problems. There is a positive correlation between TTHMs in drinking water and spontaneous abortion, as well (Xie, 2004).

The EPA has set MCLs for chlorine byproducts in drinking water, but these chlorine byproducts continue to be present, and, even in small amounts, they can lead to damaging health problems.

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How Safe is Your Drinking Water?
Introduction - The Value of Drinking Water
Groundwater and Surface Water
Herbicides and Insecticides - History & Occurrence
Herbicides and Insecticides - Specific Chemicals and Health Effects
Nitrate
Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
Chlorine
Chlorine Byproducts
Fluoride - Recent Discoveries
Fluoride - Adverse Health Effects
Lead
Mercury and Arsenic
Bacteria and Viruses
Protozoa
Human and Animal Feces
Conclusion - The Importance of Drinking Filtered Water
References
 
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