The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has reaffirmed its commitment to reducing the presence of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in drinking water. Meanwhile, the Chlorine Chemistry Council was critical of the report, stating it may unnecessarily alarm the public and, in particular, pregnant women about risks that are not supported by scientific evidence.
The AWWA said it has been working collaboratively since 1998 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmental groups and other stakeholders, including consumer groups, to develop a new regulatory framework for the level of disinfection byproducts in drinking water through a staged process. Stage 1 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule was finalized by the EPA in 1998, and the AWWA, along with a wide cross-section of stakeholders, are working together toward the proposal of a Stage 2 rulemaking, the group said.
"As part of our mission to promote public health through safe drinking water, AWWA and its members continue to work to reduce disinfection byproduct levels in drinking water through a process that protects the public from both long- and short-term health risks," says AWWA executive director Jack Hoffbuhr. "Safe drinking water disinfection remains one of the most significant public health achievements of the last century, and by working collaboratively to develop new regulatory frameworks we are ensuring that drinking water will remain safe."
Hoffbuhr said that after reviewing the report - which came from the Environmental Working Group and U.S. Public Interest Research Group - AWWA continues to believe working collaboratively with other groups to prevent source water contamination and reduce the presence of disinfection byproducts in drinking water is the best course of action.
C.T. Howlett Jr., executive director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council, says that for more than 100 years, chlorine has been added to drinking water to destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses. As a result, waterborne diseases have essentially been eliminated, contributing to an increase in life expectancy by more than 25 years. The prevalence of chlorine disinfection - used in 98 percent of utilities that treat water - is one of the reasons why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently declared that U.S. drinking water is the safest it has been in 30 years, Howlett said.
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