Health Issues

More Water Contaminants

Radionuclides & disinfectants affect health


Water suppliers often add disinfectants to drinking water to kill microorganisms like giardia lamblia and E coli. But while they may prevent microorganism caused illnesses, disinfectants are water contaminants themselves.

  • Chlorine - High levels of chlorine can irritate the eyes and nose. Stomach pain is also possible.
  • Chloramine - It can irritate the eyes and nose and cause stomach discomfort. It can also cause anemia if levels are too high.
  • Chlorine Dioxide - It can cause nervous system effects in young children and infants, as well as the fetuses of pregnant women who are exposed to high levels. Anemia is also possible.


These radiological contaminants get into the water through certain soils, the disposal and storage of radioactive waste and phosphorous and uranium mining. They are, for the most part, naturally occurring, but human activity often contributes to their contamination of water. Very low levels are present in most drinking water and are not considered a health concern, but higher levels can be dangerous.

  • Radon gas is produced naturally in many areas due to the breakdown of uranium. This radioactive gas can dissolve into the water supply and become released into the air as water is used in the home. Breathing radon may cause lung cancer in the long term and drinking it can increase cancer risks. Radon in drinking water isn't as much of a risk as is radon in soil under homes. Thankfully, there are radon detectors to find it.
  • Beta particles / photon emitters are often introduced to water by way of contamination from facilities that use or produce radioactive materials. They are associated with an increased risk of cancer.
  • Combined radium 226 / 228 naturally occurs in some drinking-water sources and can cause an increased risk of cancer over a number of years.
  • Uranium is caused by the erosion of natural deposits and can cause an increased risk of cancer and kidney toxicity.


Byproducts are created when disinfectants react with organic matter present in the water.

Trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate and chlorite are byproducts of water disinfection. Problems with prolonged and increased exposure to these byproducts can include liver, kidney and central nervous system damage; higher risk of cancer; and anemia.

Whom it may concern

Disinfectant-related water contaminants are in most public water systems and, although claimed to be safe in small amounts, many people have concerns about their presence. Look for water filters that can remove chlorine and other disinfectants. Radionuclides are not a concern for most of the population, but for those with wells, yearly testing is a good idea. Reverse osmosis can filter both uranium and radium, and radon can be remedied through carbon filtering. Special disposal may be required, so talk to a professional.

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