Millions tap into dirty water

Monday, September 21, 2009

USA Today, Michelle Healy
Published January 9, 2002

Millions of Americans have been drinking tap water contaminated with chemical byproducts from chlorine that are far more than what studies suggest may be safe for pregnant women, two environmental groups say in a study. Chlorine is commonly used to disinfect drinking water. When it is added to water that contains organic matter such as runoff from farms or lawns, however, it can form compounds such as chloroform that can cause illness.

“By failing to clean up rivers and reservoirs that provide drinking water for hundreds of millions of Americans, EPA and the Congress have forced water utilities to chlorinate water that is contaminated with animal waste, sewage, fertilizer, algae and sediment,” says the report released Tuesday by Environmental Working Group and Public Interest Research Groups.

Genes of smokers may affect birthweight

Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to bear an underweight child, but some women may carry a higher risk than others because of genetic susceptibility, a study suggests. The finding could help investigators better determine the causes of low birthweight, though researchers say they are not recommending at this point that women be screened for presence of the genes involved. The authors note that 65% of all infant deaths in the USA occur among low-birthweight infants (5.5 pounds or less). The study appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.


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