I’ve always been a tap water drinker. Unless of course I’m visiting my parents or my in-laws, then I’m a well water drinker. It’s what I always drank growing up and it’s what I’ve always assumed that my daughter would drink. Then, I had to see this terrifying study about the disinfectants used in some tap water. Now, I feel like I have to reevaluate my approach, or at least do a little more research.
In Northern Italy, scientists looked at the tap water, and the effects of the products used to disinfect it. Since I’m not a scientists, I’m just going to quote them on the explanation to make sure I don’t mess anything up here.
Chemical disinfectants can create byproducts when they are added to drinking water. They form when the disinfectants interact with organic matter in the water. For example, trihalomethanes (THMs) are a byproduct of chlorine – the world’s classic water disinfectant. THMs are linked to cancer and birth defects. The total amount of THMs in tap water is regulated in the United States, Europe and other countries with treated water systems.
The Emilia Romagna region of northern Italy treats drinking water with two other disinfectants, either alone or in tandem: chlorine dioxide and sodium hypochlorite. The chemical byproducts (DBPs) produced from these disinfectants can include chlorite, chlorate and chloride ions.
And apparently, chlorite and chlorate can lead to birth defects like cleft palate, spina bifada and renal defects. That’s more than a little terrifying.
The study itself is part of a larger initiative to look at alternative disinfectants and how they can be used to make safer drinking water. as the world looks for alternatives to chlorine, like we use here in the United States, more and more research will have to be done about the possible side effects. The obvious issue is that the research will happen after the new disinfectants have been used to treat our water. As in, we’ll be the possible guinea pigs.
That thought alone is enough to make me eye my kitchen sink with just a little more suspicion. It makes me wonder if my local water company has to tell me when they experiment with chlorine substitutes. Honestly, it just makes me scared.
Healthy tap water is a thing that I’ve taken for granted. Maybe it’s my trusting Midwestern nature, but I’ve never even considered looking into my local water filtration plants, what chemicals they use to clean my water and what the possibly by-products would be. Suddenly, I find the conversation much more interesting though.
This terrifying research may have occurred in Northern Italy, but it definitely makes me a little more nervous about what’s happening here at home. What about you? Am I the only one whose suddenly questioning their tap water loyalty?