Tag Archives: Disinfecting Drinking Water

Johns Hopkins University study: New toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water

2 Feb

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in Disinfection with Chlorine & Chloramine:

Water can come from a variety of sources, such as lakes and wells, which can be contaminated with germs that can make people sick. Germs can also contaminate water as it travels through miles of piping to get to a community. To prevent contamination with germs, water companies add a disinfectant—usually either chlorine or chloramine 1—that kills disease-causing germs such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and norovirus. The type of chloramine discussed on this page that is used to treat drinking water (monochloramine) is not the same type that can form and harm the indoor air quality around swimming pools (dichloramine or trichloramine) 2.
Chlorine was first used as a drinking water disinfectant in Europe in the late 1800s. It was first used in the U.S. in 1908 in Jersey City, New Jersey 1. Chloramine has been used as a drinking water disinfectant in the U.S. in places like Springfield, Illinois, and Lansing, Michigan since 1929 2. Today, chlorine and chloramine are the major disinfectants used to disinfect public water systems.
How can I find out what’s in my drinking water?
Many public water systems have to add a disinfectant to the water. The disinfectant must be present in all water found in the pipes that carry the water throughout the community 3. Most communities use either chlorine or chloramines. Some communities switch back and forth between chlorine and chloramines at different times of the year or for other operational reasons 4. Less commonly, utilities use other disinfectants, such as chlorine dioxide 2. Some water systems that use water from a groundwater source (like community wells) do not have to add a disinfectant at all 5. You can find out whether there is a disinfectant in your water, what kind of disinfectant is used, and how well your utility has remained in compliance with the rules about disinfection by obtaining a copy of your utility’s consumer confidence report 3. This is an annual report that your utility has to send to all customers every year…. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_disinfection.html

See, Chlorination of Drinking Water https://www.water-research.net/index.php/water-treatment/tools/chlorination-of-water

Dr. Edward Group wrote in Toxic Chemical: The Health Dangers of Chlorine:

Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and, as part of the literal salt of the earth, very abundant. Humans have harnessed chlorine and most commonly use it for disinfecting purposes. Unfortunately, chlorine’s potential toxicity is not limited to mold and fungus and has actually been linked to serious health dangers for humans.
Chlorine Is Bad for the Brain
Chlorine is in many household cleaners, it’s used as a fumigant, and, since it impedes the growth of bacteria like e. coli and giardia, and is often added to water systems as a disinfectant. Subsequently, much exposure happens by drinking treated tap water. While disinfection of drinking water is a necessary measure to reduce diseases, concerns have been raised about the safety of chlorine, which has been linked to serious adverse health effects, including dementia in elderly patients.[1]
Chlorine Is Bad for the Lungs
Inhalation of chlorine gas can cause difficulty breathing, chest pains, cough, eye irritation, increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, and death. Where are most people exposed? The swimming pool. Consider that, when used to maintain a swimming pool, chlorine is a poison that’s diluted just enough so that it can still kill pool scum without being strong enough to kill a human. Common sense dictates that can’t be a totally harmless situation and the research backs it up.
A review of available research (and there is a lot of it) by Marywood University confirms that long-term exposure to chlorinated pools can cause symptoms of asthma in swimmers.[2] This can affect athletes who were previously healthy, especially adolescents.[3]
Chlorine is even toxic enough to be a chemical weapon and categorized as a “choking agent”.[4] Exposure would be a very traumatic experience.[5] In fact, the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina reported a chlorine spill accident that happened in South Carolina in January of 2005. Ten months after the event, exposure victims were still so shaken that many reported recurring PTSD symptoms.[6]
Chlorine Is Caustic
In addition to the internal effects of exposure to chlorine, eye and skin irritation in swimmers has been hypothesized to originate from chlorine exposure.[7] That’s not all, did you know that swimming pool chlorine is associated with tooth enamel erosion? It’s not often mentioned but the New York University College of Dentistry lists it as a prime concern.[8]
Reducing Chlorine Exposure
Much chlorine exposure happens by choice and by simply making new choices you can help reduce exposure risks. If you have a pool, avoid chlorine products. There are alternative methods that can be used to keep pools disinfected, including silver-copper ion generators and salt water.
Avoid home cleaning products that contain chlorine. There are natural and organic alternatives available. You can even make your own.
One of the most significant measures you can take is to always drink distilled water or consider a water purification system for your home. It will help to reduce toxins before the water even comes out the faucet…. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/toxic-chemical-health-dangers-chlorine/

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported concerns about use of disinfecting water systems by using chlorine.

Science Daily reported in: New toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water:

Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States’ most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts, says Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University and his collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley and Switzerland.
The researchers’ findings were published this past week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
“There’s no doubt that chlorine is beneficial; chlorination has saved millions of lives worldwide from diseases such as typhoid and cholera since its arrival in the early 20th century,” says Prasse, an assistant professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University and the paper’s lead author.
“But that process of killing potentially fatal bacteria and viruses comes with unintended consequences. The discovery of these previously unknown, highly toxic byproducts, raises the question how much chlorination is really necessary.”
Phenols, which are chemical compounds that occur naturally in the environment and are abundant in personal care products and pharmaceuticals, are commonly found in drinking water. When these phenols mix with chlorine, the process creates a large number of byproducts. Current analytical chemistry methods, however, are unable to detect and identify all of these byproducts, some which may be harmful and can cause long-term health consequences, says Prasse.
In this study, Prasse and colleagues employed a technique commonly used in the field of toxicology to identify compounds based on their reaction with biomolecules like DNA and proteins. They added N-α-acetyl-lysine, which is almost identical to the amino acid lysine that makes up many proteins in our bodies, to detect reactive electrophiles. Previous studies show that electrophiles are harmful compounds which have been linked to a variety of diseases.
The researchers first chlorinated water using the same methods used commercially for drinking water; this included adding excess chlorine, which ensures sufficient disinfection but also eliminates harmless smell and taste compounds that consumers often complain about. After that, the team added the aforementioned amino acid, let the water incubate for one day and used mass spectrometry, a method of analyzing chemicals, to detect the electrophiles that reacted with the amino acid.
Their experiment found the compounds 2-butene-1,4-dial (BDA) and chloro-2-butene-1,4-dial (or BDA with chlorine attached). BDA is a very toxic compound and a known carcinogen that, until this study, scientists had not detected in chlorinated water before, says Prasse.
While Prasse stresses that this is a lab-based study and the presence of these novel byproducts in real drinking water has not been evaluated, the findings also raise the question about the use of alternative methods to disinfect drinking water, including the use of ozone, UV treatment or simple filtration.
“In other countries, especially in Europe, chlorination is not used as frequently, and the water is still safe from waterborne illnesses. In my opinion, we need to evaluate when chlorination is really necessary for the protection of human health and when alternative approaches might be better,” says Prasse…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200128142744.htm

Citation:

New toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water
Date: January 28, 2020
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States’ most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts.

Journal Reference:
Carsten Prasse, Urs von Gunten, David L. Sedlak. Chlorination of Phenols Revisited: Unexpected Formation of α,β-Unsaturated C4-Dicarbonyl Ring Cleavage Products. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020; 54 (2): 826 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b04926

Here’s the press release from Johns Hopkins:

What’s in Your Water?

Researchers Identify New Toxic Byproducts of Disinfecting Drinking Water

January 29, 2020

CONTACT:
Chanapa Tantibanchachai
Office: 443-997-5056 / Cell: 928-458-9656
chanapa@jhu.edu @JHUmediareps

Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States’ most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts, says Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University and his collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley and Switzerland.
The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
“There’s no doubt that chlorine is beneficial; chlorination has saved millions of lives worldwide from diseases such as typhoid and cholera since its arrival in the early 20th century,” says Prasse, an assistant professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University and the paper’s lead author.
“But that process of killing potentially fatal bacteria and viruses comes with unintended consequences. The discovery of these previously unknown, highly toxic byproducts raises the question how much chlorination is really necessary.”
Phenols, which are chemical compounds that occur naturally in the environment and are abundant in personal care products and pharmaceuticals, are commonly found in drinking water. When these phenols mix with chlorine, the process creates a large number of byproducts. Current analytical chemistry methods, however, are unable to detect and identify all of these byproducts, some which may be harmful and can cause long-term health consequences, says Prasse.
In this study, Prasse and colleagues employed a technique commonly used in the field of toxicology to identify compounds based on their reaction with biomolecules like DNA and proteins. They added N-α-acetyl-lysine, which is almost identical to the amino acid lysine that makes up many proteins in our bodies, to detect reactive electrophiles. Previous studies show that electrophiles are harmful compounds which have been linked to a variety of diseases.
The researchers first chlorinated water using the same methods used commercially for drinking water; this included adding excess chlorine, which ensures sufficient disinfection but also eliminates harmless smell and taste compounds that consumers often complain about. After that, the team added the aforementioned amino acid, let the water incubate for one day and used mass spectrometry, a method of analyzing chemicals, to detect the electrophiles that reacted with the amino acid.
Their experiment found the compounds 2-butene-1,4-dial (BDA) and chloro-2-butene-1,4-dial (or BDA with chlorine attached). BDA is a very toxic compound and a known carcinogen that, until this study, scientists had not detected in chlorinated water before, says Prasse.
While Prasse stresses that this is a lab-based study and the presence of these novel byproducts in real drinking water has not been evaluated, the findings also raise the question about the use of alternative methods to disinfect drinking water, including the use of ozone, UV treatment or simple filtration.
“In other countries, especially in Europe, chlorination is not used as frequently, and the water is still safe from waterborne illnesses. In my opinion, we need to evaluate when chlorination is really necessary for the protection of human health and when alternative approaches might be better,” says Prasse.
“Our study also clearly emphasizes the need for the development of new analytical techniques that allow us to evaluate the formation of toxic disinfection by-products when chlorine or other disinfectants are being used. One reason regulators and utilities are not monitoring these compounds is that they don’t have the tools to find them.”
Other authors on this study include Urs von Gunten of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and David L. Sedlak of The University of California, Berkeley.
Funding for this study was provided by the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program (Grant P42 ES004705) at the University of California, Berkeley and internal funding from Johns Hopkins University.
###
Johns Hopkins University news releases are available online, as is information for reporters. To arrange a video or audio interview with a Johns Hopkins expert, contact a media representative listed above or visit our studio web page. Find more Johns Hopkins stories on the Hub.
January 29, 2020 Tags: Carsten Prasse, chlorination, Environmental Health and Engineering, The Whiting School of Engineering, toxic byproducts, water, water treatment
Posted in Engineering

Office of Communications
Johns Hopkins University
3910 Keswick Road, Suite N2600
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Phone: 443-997-9009 | Fax: 443 997-1006

Water and Waste Digest reported in Chlorination and Its Alternatives:

Alternatives

Despite the popularity of chlorination, the treatment method has limitations when attempting to disinfect private wells that are heavily contaminated and possess protozoan parasites such as Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia. Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection and reverse osmosis (RO) filtration both have proved effective at inactivating specific protozoan. Both methodologies purify water without the addition of harsh chemicals or the need to handle hazardous materials.
UV Disinfection
UV disinfection is the process where microorganisms are exposed to UV light at a specified intensity for a specific period of time. This process renders the microorganism to be considered “microbiologically dead.” UV light penetrates the cell wall of the
microorganism affecting the DNA by fusing the Thyamine bond within the DNA
strand, which prevents the DNA strand from replicating during the reproduction
process. This fusing of the Thyamine bond is known as forming a dimerase of the
Thyamine bond. If the microorganism is unable to reproduce/replicate then it is
considered to be “microbiologically dead.” While providing a 99.99 percent inactivation of bacterium and viruses, UV will have no effect on water chemistry.
Reverse Osmosis
RO filtration uses a semipermeable membrane that enables the water being purified to pass through while contaminants remain behind. Traditionally, osmosis refers to the attempt to reach equilibrium by dissimilar liquid systems trying to reach the same
concentration of materials on both sides of a semipermeable membrane. Reversing
the osmotic process is accomplished by applying pressure to stop the natural
osmosis process, creating RO. RO removes virtually all organic compounds and 90
to 99 percent of all ions from the processed water. In addition, RO can reject
99.9 percent of viruses, bacteria and pyrogens. Alternative methods of treatment for private water supplies such as UV and RO do not provide a residual effect like chlorination. Without a residual, the regrowth of contaminants further down in the
distribution system becomes possible. Chlorination generally is an inexpensive treatment method and proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens. Although it has shown itself to be effective against waterborne bacteria and viruses, it provides only some degree of protection against protozoan agents. Nevertheless, a private water supply should utilize a treatment system that kills or neutralizes all pathogens in the water through an automatic, simply maintained and safe process. Chlorination remains the most popular choice of treatment for private water supplies by homeowners. https://www.wwdmag.com/chlorinators/chlorination-and-its-alternatives

See, Community Water Treatment https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_treatment.html

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