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News item: 10-Year Study Uncovers Toxic Aspects of Treated Water DBPs

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2 comments, last: Apr-11-2009   Add a comment   Contributor:  TheTeam (Apr-6-2009)    Play a Video
Optimism: 2 Categories: Pollution, Wildlife and Nature

Preparing large quantities of pure drinking water is a complex process using mechanical and chemical methods; click to see larger imageUniversity of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa said that disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in water are the unintended consequence of water purification.

"The process of disinfecting water with chlorine and chloramines and other types of disinfectants generates a class of compounds in the water that are called disinfection byproducts. The disinfectant reacts with the organic material in the water and generates hundreds of different compounds. Some of these are toxic, some can cause birth defects, some are genotoxic, which damage DNA, and some we know are also carcinogenic."

The 10-year study began with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to develop mammalian cell lines that would be used specifically to analyze the ability of these compounds to kill cells, or cytotoxicity, and the ability of these emerging disinfection byproducts to cause genomic DNA damage.

"Our lab has assembled the largest toxicological database on these emerging new DBPs. And from them we've made two fundamental discoveries that hopefully will aid the U.S. EPA in their regulatory decisions. The two discoveries are somewhat surprising," Plewa said.

The first discovery involves iodine-containing DBPs. "You get iodine primarily from sea water or underground aquifers that perhaps were associated with an ancient sea bed at one time. If there is high bromine and iodine in that water, when you disinfect these waters, you can generate the chemical conditions necessary to produce DBPs that have iodine atoms attached. And these are much more toxic and genotoxic than the regulated DBPs that currently EPA uses," he said.

Plewa said that the second discovery concerns nitrogen-containing DBPs. "Disinfectant byproducts that have a nitrogen atom incorporated into the structure are far more toxic and genotoxic, and some even carcinogenic, than those DBPs that don't have nitrogen. And there are no nitrogen-containing DBPs that are currently regulated."

See original news item: Water and Wastewater News, Apr-6-2009  
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Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Apr-11-2009)   Web site
This all points out the "brittleness" of complex societies, which we certainly have. The more complex and advanced a society, the easier it is to collapse. Various people have written about the repeated observed collapse of complex societies, for example, Tainter, who observed that increasing complexity gives rise to diminishing marginal returns on investment; when those returns become negative, the society has a progressively diminishing capacity to withstand stress, and is vulnerable to collapse (see a book review). Consider: how could we live in today's complex, industrialized world without treating the water with chemicals that are bound to have dangers, as this study shows?
  
Comment by:  stevehinton (Stephen Hinton) (Apr-11-2009)   Web site

The EU is aware of this problem and has initiated a study called HiWate, with researchers from several countries involved. Here in Sweden, high levels of chlorine in drinking water correlate with increased risk of birth defects and problems with child carrying. The hilarious thing is that people who have gone over to drinking water bottled in plastic bottles have been AS horrified to see the hormone-like compounds leaching out of these containers!

  
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About contributor Member: TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team) TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team)

Member: TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team) The volunteers of PlanetThoughts.org are happy to give you their best selection of news, opinion, reviews, stories, quotes, tips, and more. We hope you enjoy the reading... and thinking. Thanks!

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