Chloroform in tap water
Elevated exposure to chloroform is often associated with brain, kidney, and liver damage including hepatitis and jaundice. It has also been linked to pregnancy problems. Exposure can cause dizziness, irritability, headaches, fatigue, and more. Chloroform is suspected of causing cancer.
DBPs vary based on a variety of factors including water quality as well as the disinfectants used to treat water. The U.S. EPA has set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for TTHMs, HAA5, chlorite, and bromate to regulate the volume of these DBPs found in drinking water supplies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set allowable levels of TTHMs, HAA5, chlorite, and bromate to regulate the volume of these DBPs found in bottled water.
Given chloroform is used to make other chemicals, it can also be found at paper mills, hazardous waste sites, and landfills. The colorless liquid dissolves easily into water which means it can sneak into water supplies undetected if mismanaged by the aforementioned resources.
Chloroform is suspected of causing cancer. The chemical is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Plus, the latest ‘Report on Carcinogens’ from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services labeled chloroform as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” In other words, multiple organizations believe it could have the potential to cause cancer in humans.
Chloroform has also been assigned its own Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) of .07 mg/L, or 70 ppb, by the U.S. EPA. The MCLG is defined as the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected health risk. This MCLG is not an enforceable standard.
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1. U.S. EPA. National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/national-primary-drinking-water-regulations#Byproducts. Accessed April 1, 2021.
2. EWG Tap Water Database. Chloroform. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/contaminant.php?contamcode=2941#. Accessed April 1, 2021.
3. World Health Organization. Trihalomethanes in Drinking-water. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/THM200605.pdf. Accessed April 1, 2021.
4. CDC. Biomonitoring Summary: Disinfection By-Products (Trihalomethanes). https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/THM-DBP_BiomonitoringSummary.html. Accessed April 1, 2021.
5. IARC. Monographs On The Identification of Carcinogenic Hazards to Humans: List of Classifications. https://monographs.iarc.who.int/list-of-classifications. Accessed April 1, 2021.
6. NTP. Report on Carcinogens (ROC), Fourteenth Edition: Chloroform. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/content/profiles/chloroform.pdf. Accessed April 1, 2021.
7. EPA. Chloroform. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/chloroform.pdf. Accessed April 1, 2021.
8. EWG. 220 Million Americans Could Have Chloroform in Their Tap Water. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/220-million-americans-could-have-chloroform-their-tap-water#.WbvYfdOGOL5. Accessed April 1, 2021.