©2018 Mahoning Valley Water Inc.  Chlorine Health Hazards      Disinfection of drinking water through processes including filtration and chlorination was one if the major achievements of public health, beginning in the late 1800s and the early 1900s.  For instance, how many cholera outbreaks have you heard of in the United States today?  Not many, I'll wager, if any at all.  With all the bacterium and new diseases floating around today, we want that chlorinated water coming to our house.  HOWEVER, once it comes through the walls of our homes, we want it OUT.  Why?  Because chlorine is the proverbial double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it provides us with safe drinking water and on the other hand, it provides us with dangerous drinking water.  Confusing, isn't it? Trihalomethanes      Chlorination disinfection byproducts were first reported in 1974.  Chlorine's potent oxidizing power causes it to react with naturally occurring organic material in raw water to produce hundreds of chlorinated organic compounds.  One of the most  commonly occurring groups of compounds are the trihalomethanes or THM's for short.      THM's consist of chloroform, bromoform, bromodichloromethane, and chlorodibromomethane.  Federal drinking water regulations state that if a public water supply serving more than 10,000 people contains more than 100 parts per billion (ppb) of total THM's, the water is unacceptable.  However, since there are usually no other available sources of drinking water, the EPA is usually not in a position to do anything except urge the water supplier to clean up its act.      Why the concern?  Because THM's have been shown to cause significant increases of kidney, liver, and intestinal tumors.  Unfortunately, that's not all.  Chlorine byproducts have now been linked to miscarriages and birth defects. California Study      A study by the California Dept of Health published in Mar 1998, tracked the drinking water consumption and pregnancy outcomes of 5,144 pregnant women during the period 1989-1991.  The drinking water consumption of the women was ascertained as soon as their pregnancy was registered in the study's database.  The study found that 16% of women drinking 5 or more glasses of water per day containing more than 75 ppb THM's had miscarriages, whereas only 9.5% of women drinking less water or water lower in THM's, had miscarriages. New Jersey Study      In Jan 1998, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published a case-control study showing that serious birth defects - spina bifida, or neural tube defects - are associated with total THM's ingested in drinking water.  Neural tube defects are serious birth defects in which the spinal cord is not properly enclosed by bone.  This statewide study found a doubled risk of neural tube defects among those with the highest exposures to THM's in drinking water.  This study pointed pit that exposure to THM's also occurs through the contamination of indoor air.  Flushing toilets, showering, and washing dishes and clothes, injects THM's into the air exposing residents. Setting Standards      The US EPA is currently setting new standards for THM's in drinking water.  The new regulations would apply to all water companies, not just those serving 10,000 people or more, and that would limit total THM's to 80 ppb, down from the present 100 ppb.  However, since several studies link THM's at 75 ppb or even less to increased miscarriages, the new standard seems dubious even before its been established. So What Do We Do?      Many European cities and some Canadian cities, such as Ottawa, have turned away from  chlorination long ago in favor of ozonation to disinfect their water supplies.  In recent years, a few smaller American cities have begun to use ozonation - Emporia, Kansas and Littleton, Massachusetts for example.  The Santa Clara Valley Water District in California has announced that it is switching to ozone over the next 5 - 8 years, as has the city of Las Vegas, Nevada.      As for the rest of us, we must treat our own water to remove the chlorine.  Because THM's are injected into the air and breathed, it is no longer acceptable to just treat drinking water.  Chlorine must be removed from the whole house right where the water enters the home.  A whole-house carbon filter or mixed-bed softener is used in homes to remove chlorine. MAHONING VALLEY WATER