Buds N Bugs: Trihalomethanes

Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 14:09 PM.

For example, in Apalachicola, over the last year, on the average, the drinking water contained 82.33 parts per billion (ppb) of THM. That is less than three parts per billion higher than the legal limit of 80 ppb.

Not parts per million, parts per billion. It takes very sensitive equipment to detect the difference.

One THM with which many people are familiar is chloroform, which has been used for decades as an anesthetic.

At the high levels of concentration required to induce unconsciousness, chloroform can cause acute reactions in humans including irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage and redness and blistering of the skin. Exposure might possibly increase rates of certain cancers and cause a miscarriage or damage an unborn child as well.

The effects of THM are expected to be similar to chloroform, however, the level of exposure to inhaled chloroform that can cause injury is 1,500 ppb or more.  This is much higher than the 82 ppb found in our water.

Toxicologists tell us the poison is in the dose. Even pure water is dangerous if too much is consumed.

According to the EPA, 80 ppb is only 20 percent (one-fifth) of the amount of THM considered safe for consumption over a lifetime.

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