Health Canada is now seeking a contractor to do a limited sampling from water-supply plants, testing for substances such as bisphenol A, known or suspected carcinogens, and pharmaceutical products washed down drains, many of which have never been tested for before.
Some of the most common by-products of water purification in water treatment plants occur when the disinfectants used react with things that occur naturally - like rotting leaves or vegetation - forming hundreds of the more universal compounds like trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate and chlorite.
Other substances are of a scarier sort.
The discovery of new byproducts "challenges the basis of our current mitigating strategies," says a request for proposals issued Tuesday "They migrate into drinking water sources and may not be eliminated by current water treatment processes. Some substances in this category have been identified as either known or suspected carcinogens and endocrine or reproductive disruptors. Limited surveys have shown that many of these compounds, thought to have significant health effects, can be present in Canadian drinking water."
Remember Walkerton, Ontario? It took one of the worst public-health disasters in Canadian history to prompt changes to laws and practices surrounding municipal drinking water. After seven residents died and over 2,500 were sickened in 2000 by tap water contaminated with E. coli, water purification processes were tightened up and improved. Still, water run through purification plants does not get rid of all impurities - last year there were an estimated 1,760 boil-water advisories across the country.
That's a lot of water deemed unsafe to drink out of the tap or bathe with.
Now, I'm not naive enough to think that my drinking water is crystal pure. I am naive enough to assume that my drinking water doesn't have something in it that might give my children cancer. Or MS. Or make them sterile. So I hope against hope that these new tests don't turn up something dreadful.
Because finding out the high levels of chronic disease throughout Canada is due to 'something in the water'? The water that we drink daily and urge our children to drink more of? Would be unthinkable.
photo by yoppy
This is an original Canada Moms Blog post. Jessica blogs about her life and worries about stuff at daysgoby.