Research carried out by a team from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Europe, shows that a percentage of bladder cancers in Ireland and some other EU countries could be attributed to the use of disinfectant products like chlorine in treating surface water. According to the research, chlorine is the most widely used disinfectant used in the purification of public drinking water. However, in some situations, free chlorine reacts with organic compounds in water which then creates byproducts including THM’s (Trihalomethanes), which are being associated with bladder cancer.
Countries showing the highest levels of bladder cancer cases linked to THM’s were Cyprus, Malta, Ireland, Spain and Greece. Countries with the lowest rate of bladder cancer were Denmark and Holland. There is no unequivocal evidence that THMs cause bladder cancer only a link and it should be noted that the health benefits of water disinfection and chlorination far outweigh a small increase in the risk of bladder cancer.
The research also shows that the majority of participating countries use chlorination (chlorine, hypochlorite) as the main disinfection method alone or in combination with other methods such as ozone or UV radiation. however, in Denmark, aeration and water filtration are mainly used, and in Holland, ozone and UV radiation are applied.
As Ireland is one of nine countries that exceed current average THMs levels in drinking water, it could lead to an increase in the number of bladder cancer cases unless measures are adopted to optimise water treatment, disinfection, and distribution, among other measures, without compromising the microbiological quality of drinking water.
For households worried about THMs, other chemical contaminants or heavy metals in their drinking water, a quality under-sink water filter or filtration system will purify the water for drinking and provide long term protection and peace of mind.
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