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Posted at 6:41 PM ET, 05/ 3/2010

Don't worry about chlorine levels in D.C. water

By editors

By Fred M. Reiff
Chevy Chase

As a former public health official in both the U.S. Public Health Service and the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization directly involved in drinking-water quality, I wish to correct the misinformation in Rose Overbey’s April.25 Local Opinions article, “That chlorine smell means trouble in D.C.’s water.”

Chlorine is a vital part of the system that brings clean, germ-free water to local homes. Chlorine-based disinfectants provide a residual level, required by the Environmental Protection Agency to help protect treated water all the way to the consumer’s tap. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO, drinking water chlorination remains one of the most significant advances in public health protection.

Furthermore, Ms. Overbey’s claim about chlorine and the resulting risk of cancer or asthma is misleading. The EPA sets regulations to limit byproduct formation and establish their acceptable levels. When used to kill germs in water, chlorine creates byproducts — as do all disinfectants that produce a residual.

It’s also important to note that the D.C. Water and Sewer Agency Web site shows that during the flushing period, chlorine levels never exceeded EPA’s drinking-water standard, a level EPA has established to pose “no known or expected health risk [including] an adequate margin of safety.”

By editors  | May 3, 2010; 6:41 PM ET
Categories:  D.C.  
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Lead and E. coli (coliform bacteria) are traditional components of D.C.'s water systems. Like children having children, teenage gun-toters, and gang-controlled neighborhoods. Without these entities, our nation's capital would lose its cultural distinction.

Posted by: kinkysr | May 4, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I notice u live in Ch Chase, so you don't drink our water. It stinks of chlorine. And WASA and the Corps don't have a spotless record of telling the public the truth, and their lab work gets a little sloppy. Dr. Weil of health medicine fame says: never ever drink water that smells of chlorine.

Posted by: axolotl | May 5, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I am some what confused as to what the author is correcting about Ms. Overbey's article. Is he claiming that the underlying empirical studies that Ms. Overbey cited are unsound, or inaccurate? Mr. Reiff makes a blanket assertion that Ms. Overbey used "misinformation" without offering any evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: fpsilvajr | May 9, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

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