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Toxic Byproducts from Disinfecting Water

Modern farming practices and industrial waste can affect the quality of local drinking water—including what comes out of your tap. Public water facilities must follow federal regulations to keep drinking water free of harmful agents that cause illness and other adverse effects.

The many methods of disinfection keep waterborne diseases at bay for water consumers. However, new research shows that some disinfecting methods may not be as safe as we think. If you are concerned about toxic byproducts and the quality of your water, Hague Quality Water of MD will help you ensure your water is safe for you and your family by offering a water test and effective water treatment options.

Using Chlorine to Disinfect Water

One of the most common methods for disinfecting drinking water is chlorination. Chlorination refers to adding chlorine to drinking water at low levels to kill germs. These chemicals can be harmful if you ingest them in high doses. However, according to the CDC, low levels of chlorine in water are safe to consume.

By 1995, most of the water systems in the U.S. began to use chlorine to disinfect drinking water. Chlorine effectively kills viruses, bacteria, and microbes. As a result of chlorine water treatment our water, we no longer have to worry about cholera and typhoid. However, chlorine reacts with compounds in water and may create toxic byproducts.

Based on recommendations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 4 milligrams per liter is a safe chlorine level for drinking water. At this level, it produces no harmful health effects. However, some people may be more sensitive than others to chlorine in their water.

The Johns Hopkins Study

In a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal, researchers tested the potential dangers of chlorination. The research team included Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University as well as scholars from Switzerland and UC Berkeley. Their goal was to determine the necessary amount of chlorination for safe drinking water.

Phenols are naturally occurring chemical compounds often found in drinking water. When chlorine mixes with phenols, the process creates byproducts.

According to Prasse, some of these byproducts may be harmful to public health. However, current chemistry methods prevent scientists from detecting all of the byproducts that may be present.

Prasse’s team conducted research with the following procedure:

  1. They chlorinated water with the same methods as commercial drinking water.
  2. Then, they added the amino acid N -α-acetyl-lysine. Researchers often use this technique to identify compounds.
  3. They let the water sit for one day before analyzing it.

The team found two compounds: 2-butene-1,4-dial (BDA) and chloro-2-butene-1,4-dial. BDA is a carcinogen that had not previously been detected in drinking water.

While the team has not conducted the study on real drinking water yet, Prasse says we may need to consider alternative methods to disinfect water. Some options include:

Other countries around the world use alternative methods for decreasing the presence of waterborne diseases.

In the United States, it is hard to monitor toxic byproducts from chlorine because we do not yet have the tools and techniques to do so, according to Prasse. Prasse suggests that we need to develop new techniques to evaluate toxins in drinking water. Until then, it’s important to monitor the chlorine in your water.

Other Options for Disinfecting Drinking Water

You can take control of your tap water by implementing water treatment methods in your home and regularly test your water. Hauge Quality Water of Maryland offers customized water solutions, so you and your family always have high-quality drinking water.

One of our most popular home water filtration systems, the Hague WaterMax® BEQ, allows you to:

  • Get rid of hard water
  • Use less bottled water
  • Reduce sediment and dirt
  • Remove contaminants such as chlorine

When you eliminate chemicals from your water, you feel a positive difference in your hair and skin, and in your body. Our purpose is to bring you appropriate water treatment. Call our water experts today at (410) 757-2992 or 888-84-WATER to get a free water analysis and learn how we can improve your drinking water quality.

NOTE: Free water tests are for new customers to determine water quality and treatment solutions.