The list of contaminants that live in our water is ever-growing. We seem to learn about a new chemical, toxin, pollutant, or contaminant every day. Because our water’s safety is a top priority for many Americans, we turn to water filtration systems to protect us and provide us with clean, great-tasting water that’s contaminant-free and oh so satisfying while nourishing to our bodies. In this blog, we highlight a chemical you might not be aware your filter saves you from: trihalomethanes.
Although it is a mouthful, this nasty chemical compound is found in municipal and well water sources alike. What is it, what are the side effects, and which filters are fit for the job? (Spoiler! It’s a reverse osmosis filter is one of them) Read on to find out.
What Are Trihalomethanes?
Trihalomethanes or THMs are a group of four chemical compounds that can form when chlorine and other disinfectants are added to drinking water to control microbial contaminants. The chlorine reacts with organic matter that makes its way into our raw water supplies like surface water, and thus, THMs form. In some cases, without proper filtration methods, THMs can show up in our tap water, too.
The most common trihalomethanes found in drinking water are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, bromoform, and dibromochloromethane. For THMs to form in water, several factors need to be at work: temperature, chlorine and humic acid concentration, pH, and bromide ion concentration. According to the EPA-issued Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule, the maximum allowable level of THMs is 80 parts per billion (comparison). Unlike other contaminants and pollutants, though, there are no sensory signs that trihalomethanes are lurking in your water.
Effects of Having Trihalomethanes in Drinking Water
Trihalomethanes in drinking water have created a lot of concerns from top resources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). THMs are linked to heart, lung, kidney, liver issues, and central nervous system damage.
In pregnant women, THMs can cause reproductive issues, including miscarriage. And in less common cases, some studies have found that THMs, namely the chemical compound dibromochloromethane, have been known to cause bladder and colorectal cancers with prolonged exposure.
Exposure to these chemicals can happen in many ways, with the most common manner being drinking water contaminated with THMs. They can also evaporate, leading to inhalation, although experts say doing so causes minimal harm. Lastly, THMs can be absorbed through the skin when bathing or doing everyday activities like washing your hands or doing the dishes.
Can You Remove Trihalomethanes from Drinking Water?
The answer is yes, but there are challenges. Getting rid of trihalomethanes in drinking water may seem like an impossible task, but it can be done. The best way to keep THMs out of our water is to start at the municipal level, removing or reducing the amount of chlorine added to the water before filtering it. Chlorine is what scientists call a precursor, which means it is a chemical that comes before the byproduct. By reducing or removing one of the critical elements needed to create THMs, water plants can decrease the likelihood of them forming and contaminating household tap water. However, without an alternative resource to disinfect our water supplies, we are at risk of health issues caused by microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses that can cause serious illness.
As for treating your water at home, water experts say the most effective way to keep your tap water clean and free of THMs is by filtering it with an activated carbon filter or a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system.
The way reverse osmosis works is contaminated water is filtered through a semi-permeable mesh. As the water flows through the mesh, contaminant molecules get trapped because they’re too large to fit through, leaving only the smaller, clean water molecules to pass through. Many reverse osmosis filtration systems can do the job, but one manufacturer, Puronics, features RO systems enhanced by activated carbon filters.
What makes Puronics’ residential treatment systems so essential is that in addition to filtering out trihalomethanes, they can also filter out many other chemicals, toxins, and pollutants. Millions of Americans rely on municipally treated water for drinking and supplying their homes, with 80 percent of them falling victim to hard water. Consisting of minerals like calcium and magnesium, hard water is known for wreaking havoc on appliances with limescale buildup and leaving dishes, bodies, and clothes feeling unclean and marked by soap scum film. So, when RO technology and activated carbon filters are combined, homeowners can experience clean, great-tasting water to be used throughout their home.
The Science of Water
Some countless contaminants and toxins lurk within our water. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track! However, with help from the Science of Water, you no longer have to keep track. We know that keeping the water in your home safe and nourishing for you and your family is a top priority, and our team agrees. That is why we have more than 35 years in the water business. We have seen it all, and we can help you with it all.
We’re honored to be dealers and installers for Purnonics’ filtration systems, which offer a solution for all of your home’s water problems and can protect you from chemicals like trihalomethanes in drinking your water. But before we can provide you with clean, great-tasting water, we first have to perform a water test to learn more about the water in your home.
If you are interested in taking a free water test or learning more about our services, contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.