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Water Disinfectants & disinfectant by-products
Context - To protect drinking water against germs and fight disease transmitted through water,
disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, ozone and chlorine dioxide are used. These
disinfectants can react with natural material in the water to form certain unwanted
by-products, which raise health concerns.
Latest update: 15 August 2004
3. How can disinfectants and their by-products affect health?
Disinfectants in drinking-water do not raise health concerns themselves at the levels used but some of their by-products do:
- Some chlorine by-products can harm the liver and kidney of laboratory animals given high doses and may even cause tumours. They do not appear to affect reproduction except at very high doses.
- Chlorine dioxide by-products can affect the red blood cells.
- Ozonation by-products can cause tumours in animals at high dose.
4. Have disinfectants and their by-products affected human health?
4.1 Some studies in human populations seem to indicate that chlorinated and chloraminated drinking-water may cause cancers of the bladder, colon and rectum, but the studies are not conclusive. Neither chlorinated nor chloraminated drinking-water appear to cause cardiovascular disease in humans. Other disinfectants have not been studied. More...
4.2 There is no convincing evidence that water chlorination can harm pregnancies or cause reproductive problems. More...