News Feature | January 27, 2014

THMs Levels May Make Tap Water Unsafe For Pregnant Women

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


A town in Australia has issued a firm warning to expectant mothers: Don't drink the tap water. 

Regional government officials advised mothers-to-be in Kingaroy to stay away from tap water due to high levels of trihalomethanes (THMs), News Limited reported this week.

The threat to pregnant women posed by THMs is not proven, but health officials have "recommended to the council that as a precaution, expectant mothers should avoid drinking the town's water," the report said.

Plant treatment processes are undergoing a review, according to ABC. Processes “will be changed so that THM levels drop to below standard guidelines," the report said, citing council Infrastructure Manager Russell Hood.

“THMs form in drinking water primarily as a result of chlorination of organic matter found in raw water supplies,'' the South Burnett Regional Council  said in a statement.

“The most appropriate alternatives are commercially available bottled water or boiled tank water,'' the council said in a statement. “Pregnant women who have concerns or questions regarding their health should contact their local doctor.''

Some international studies have indicated that "THMs could cause some forms of cancer in the liver, kidneys, colon, bladder, rectum and reproductive areas of the body," according to the Sydney Morning Herald

"The 2004 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recommends that THM levels in drinking water should not exceed 0.25mg/L," the report said. 

A Canadian town also made the news for its struggles with THMs this month. 

"The national guideline for THM levels in water supplies is 100 micrograms per liter (ug/l). The [water supply] in Happy Valley is slightly over that mark, with 100.70 ug/l, while the spring gulch has a THM level of 63.78," according to TC Media

Along with a difference in taste and smell, residents "said the water plays havoc with plumbing and other fixtures," the report said. 

One resident said "her household has gone through six or seven hot water tanks since 2002."

The town council issued an official statement: "In the last council meeting a motion was passed whereby Council would seek to hire an independent chemist to test the water of our town. The intent for this is to get both a comprehensive analysis of the water systems that are present and to get recommendations as to how to address the concerns of residents."

Still, the statement said the water is considered safe to drink. 

Image credit: "brenda and sam," © 2007 surlygirl, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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