Chloramines are a valuable asset in treating minicipal water. However, because of the naturally corrosive nature of chlorine and ammonia, most customers prefer to remove chloramines from their water. Chloramines are formed when ammonia is added to chlorinated water. The treatment goal is to reduce the formation of trihalmethanes (THM) which are believed to cause cancer and other health problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency standards, the maximum contaminant level for municipal water supplies is no more than 100 parts per billion. Water with high organic content is subject to THM formation when chlorinated. But this is reduced when ammonoa is added to the chlorinated water. However, when ammonia is added to the water before the chlorine, THM production is higher, according to one Florida plant operator.
Chloramines and lead pipes: Not so goodtogether American water utilities are increasingly switching to chloramines, a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, for final disinfection of drinking water. Chloramine was supposed to be a "safer" water disinfectant than chlorine because it reduces formation of toxic chlorination byproducts. A 2005 survey by the American Water Works Association found that approximately a third of all utilities now use chloramines. Water disinfection byproducts are associated with increased risk of cancer and possibly adverse effects on the development of the fetus, so minimizing their levels in drinking water is a good thing. Yet, chloramines drastically increase the leaching of lead from pipes. And here is a real challenge: there are tens of thousands of lead service lines in the water system administered by the DC Water and Sewer Authority. Add to these lines the lead based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated faucets, and water fixtures, and the opportunities for lead to leach into the drinking water multiply. We all accept that water disinfection is a public health necessity. However, we need to thoroughly consider the full impact of any chemical added to drinking water given the current water distribution infrastructure in place, not in some theoretical vacuum. As described by Duke researchers, chloramine-induced lead leaching might be lessened by the addition of anticorrosivity agents during the water treatment process. Is that sufficient for protection of public health? We really don't know! Chloramine itself has been associated with severe respiratory toxicity and skin sensitivity. Overall, despite ongoing research, water treatment chemistry is still insufficiently understood by scientists and specific water quality outcomes depend on the particular chemical interactions found in each water treatment and distribution system.
Chlorine helps kill bacteria and viruses in our water supply, but not the parasites. The two most common, giardia and cryptosporidium, occur in water supplies as hard-shelled cysts that are chlorine-resistant. Even if your source water is being disinfected, these cysts can make it through to your tap. They can cause severe gastrointestinal problems in healthy people and life-threatening to people with impaired immune systems. Check out information at CDC and NSF
Last year North Texas was hit by an outbreak of the cryptosporidium parasite. The water-spread parasite causes a flu-like illness Watch video here
Cryptosporidium Sickens Swimmers in Texas
A spike in cryptosporidiosis cases has sickened at least 100 swimmers in North Texas
August 4, 2008
Cryptosporidiosis has sickened at least 100 North Texas swimmers and may have killed one, the Associated Press reported, a striking increase compared to past summers
Crypto Closes Popular Texas Lake For Ten Days Posted on July 26, 2008 by Cryptosporidium Lawyer
While the 1996 revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act significantly changed the lead requirements for materials used in residential plumbing, older fixtures and lead water lines are still in service in many communities, and they can potentially contribute lead into a home's drinking water supply. Individuals living in older homes should check to see if a lead service line connects the home to the public water system. The local water department can usually inspect the line coming into the home or check their records to confirm if the home is connected to the water system by a lead service line.
In addition to lead service lines, faucets and lead-based solder can also contribute small amounts of lead into drinking water, especially if produced and installed before 1998. As a result, some individuals who don't have lead service lines can still have unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water. Water testing can help determine if a home's lead content is below the federal limit of 0.015 mg/L. If it exceeds this level, options include using a home water treatment product certified for lead reduction.
New E.P.A. Scrutiny Is Set for a Chemical in Plastics
For a number of years, there has been discussion about BPA as a potential hazard. Governments have issued guidelines and recommendations and some retailers have removed their products containing BPA from the market. Get an update on how international governments are approaching the issue. >Read More
Chinese factory worker study suggests more potential hazards from the plastics chemical
By Jennifer Thomas
(HealthDay News) -- Exposure to high levels of the controversial plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) significantly raised the risk of sexual dysfunction, including impotence and low sex drive, among Chinese factory workers, a new study has found. Read more on this article
WASHINGTON, DC - Laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) have found high levels of the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) on 40 percent of receipts sampled from major U.S. businesses and services, including outlets of McDonald's, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, WalMart, Safeway and the U.S. Postal Service. Receipts from Target, Starbucks, Bank of America ATMs and other important enterprises were BPA-free or contained only trace amounts. Read more
Pharmaceuticals in Water
Report Creates Consumer Questions on Water Quality
Recent media articles on pharmaceuticals in water have generated questions among consumers about the quality of the U.S.’s drinking water. NSF is currently working with key organizations to help further investigate this issue and offer a solution to consumers.
A key part of our mission is to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions when it comes to looking out for their families’ wellbeing. We are working with federal, state and local government agencies, wastewater and drinking water utility officials, product manufacturers and other public health experts to do just that. Current efforts include development of appropriate product standards as well as testing and certification services that help address emerging drinking water quality needs.
There are several groups along with NSF that are coming together to discuss pharmaceuticals in water. On March 20, 2008, NSF hosted a Joint Committee meeting to address this very issue. The Joint Committee is now in the process of setting up a task group to further research the status of pharmaceuticals in water. There are many areas of consideration to examine, including health effects, treatment options and additional requirements that may need to be established.
Currently, federal and state legislation mandates testing and treatment for a wide array of tap water contaminants. A vast majority of public and private water utilities provide drinking water that meets or exceeds U.S. EPA and state drinking water safety standards. Additional legislation is being considered.
While home water treatment systems are not specifically certified to reduce pharmaceuticals at this time, many of these products can help provide additional protection against a wide array of other contaminants, including arsenic, lead and cysts, sometimes found in drinking water.
A recent Associated Press (AP) report revealed that trace amounts of many different pharmaceuticals have been found in drinking water. In the course of their investigation, members of the AP National Investigative Team indicated they reviewed hundreds of scientific reports, analyzed federal drinking water databases, visited environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230 officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation's 50 largest cities, a dozen other major water providers and smaller community water providers in all 50 states.
Fluoride, the ionic form of the element fluorine, has been added to community drinking water supplies since the 1940s to help prevent tooth decay. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 184 million Americans -- nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population -- drink fluoridated water.
Over-exposure to fluoride can be toxic, causing fluorosis (mottling and loss of tooth enamel) and skeletal fluorosis (joint pain and stiffness and bone fractures). Some studies point to a possible link between fluoride exposure and osteosarcoma, bone cancer.
The Environmental Working Group supports the use of fluoride in toothpaste, where there is strong evidence of its effectiveness. But EWG's analysis concludes that fluoridation of public water supplies should stop, because risks outweigh possible benefits, especially for infants and young children who consume more water than adults, relative to their size. Read more of the Environmental Working Group Article here
EPA Drinking Water Contaminants LINKS