What’s in your Water? Part 1
Yesterday, I posted a couple of pictures of the Water Quality Report, reporting year 2013, from the town I reside in.
As you can see, the majority of the levels listed are within, albeit at the high end, EPA regulations. So, why may that be of concern? When is the water being tested? Where is it being tested? Is it tested immediately after treatment? Or, when the chemicals have dissipated?
The chemical of the day today is chloramines. Oooh, chloramines. What are chloramines? According to the EPA, “chloramines are disinfectants used to treat drinking water. Chloramines are most commonly formed when ammonia is added to chlorine…the most typical purpose of chloramines is to protect water quality as it moves through pipes.” Chloramines are used to decrease the number of potentially harmful disinfectant by-products (DBPs) from chlorine treated water.
What are DBPs? Richardson, et al (2012) states DBPs are “an unintended consequence of using chemical disinfectants to kill harmful pathogens in water. DBPs are formed by the reaction of disinfectants with naturally occurring organic matter, bromide, and iodide, as well as from anthropogenic pollutants.” According to the EPA, “water that contains chloramines and meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to use for drinking, cooking, bathing, and other household uses. ” Within the same pdf, the EPA states, more than once, that chloramines produce less regulated DBPs than chlorine. Regulated. The EPA was very clear on italicizing regulated. What about unregulated DBPs?
Researchers are finding that “several cases of emerging DBPs are increased in formation with the use of alternative disinfectants (e.g., chloramines), including nitrogen-containing DBPs (N-DBPs), which are generally more genotoxic and cytotoxic than those without nitrogen.” There have been a few studies in communities which show an increase in blood lead levels (BLLs) in children with the use of chloramines in drinking water. Miranda, et al (2007), states “introducing chloramines to reduce carcinogenic by-products may increase exposure to lead in drinking water.” But, water that contains chloramines and meets EPA regulatory standards is safe to drink…
Where is the water being tested? Are there lead pipes from the water supply source to your house, from your house to your faucet? Is the water testing division measuring lead levels in resident’s homes, particularly those who own older houses?
Miranda, ML, Kim, D, Hull, AP, Paul, CJ, Overstreet Galeano, MA. 2007. Changes in Blood Lead Levels Associated with Use of Chloramines in Water Treatment Systems. Environmental Health Perspectives 115(2): 221-225.
Richardson, SD and Postigo, C. 2012. Drinking Water Disinfection By-Products. Emerging Organic Contaminants and Human Health: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry: 93-137.