Newport residents received notice this week that levels of some cancer-causing chemicals in their water have exceeded what’s allowed by the federal government. It’s no emergency, but the city is upgrading its treatment facilities to prevent possible long term health effects.
The carcinogens in question are called trihalomethanes (more information about trihalomethanes in drinking water from the EPA here). They’re byproducts of treating drinking water with disinfectants like chlorine, which a lot of water treatment facilities do. And the Newport Daily News reports that levels of these chemicals in Newport’s water have exceeded what the Environmental Protection Agency allows.
But those who drink water out of the tap in Newport don’t need to panic. There is evidence that drinking water with elevated levels of these chemicals over many years could raise your risk of liver or kidney cancer or possibly cause some nervous system damage – although most of that evidence comes from studies in rats and mice.
Newport is in the process of replacing one treatment facility and upgrading another to deal with the problem. Those projects are expected to be completed late next year.