Water Treatment Process May Produce Toxic Chemicals

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study to examine the effects of water treatment on chemicals in the public water supply, focusing on phenols, which are common, organic chemicals that occur naturally in water and are present in dyes, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides.

First, the researchers oxidized phenols using a process that is commonly used in water treatment facilities. Then, they added amino acids and proteins and used the resulting mixtures to determine which compounds the phenols had been converted to during oxidation. One byproduct they discovered, a compound called 2-butene-1,4-dial, is known to have adverse health effects, including DNA damage.

In time, the researchers say, they may be able to expand this process to screen for other chemicals in water supplies and how treatment affects them.

Sourced from: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences