- Written by Carina Harkin
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Last time it was the dreaded Cryptosporidium , an insidious little critter that was the cause of a numerous bouts of gastroenteritis. Well to combat that problem it seems that the cure may be worse than the original problem.
We have now been warned that the amount of something called trihalomethanes (THMs) is way over the recommended limit.
It was reported that these THMs are a result of disinfectants being used in the water. Here I was thinking that a bunch of house wives and husbands were polluting our water by using too many cleaning products and these were ending up in the septic tanks and then into the waterways and finding there way into our drinking water. How wrong could I be and apologies to those hygienists, however they too should be aware that anti-bacterials should not be used with septic tanks. In fact septic tanks rely on bacteria to work properly.
The source of these THMs are for those of you who are concerned, is chlorine
Yes this is the disinfectant that was reported to be the source of these THMs. THMs, as reported, are associated with an increased risk in miscarriage and are carcinogenic. It seems that our trusted water board have decided in all there wisdom to add more chorine to the water to combat the cryptosporidium bug. Makes sense, except chorine doesn’t kill cryptosporidium and too much of it can give us cancer.
The problem with chlorine
Chlorine is added at water treatment plants to combat bacterial contamination. The real problem starts, however, when chlorine combines with other organic contaminants to form trihalomethanes (THMs). These other contaminants originate either from herbicides and pesticides in agriculture or solvents, varnishes and glues used in industry. Our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs are contaminated by leaching from agricultural soils, urban waste and industrial effluents, for instance petrol. Ground water from underground reservoirs, wells and bores can also contain toxic organics, because these chemicals soak through the ground from waste dumps and the sites of agricultural chemicals usage. Yuk!
Not only can chlorine combine to form THMs, unfortunately it can also combine to form poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are also known carcinogens. The problem is not confined to drinking water either. Up to two thirds of our daily exposure to harmful chlorine occurs while we bathe as chlorine is both inhaled in steam and absorbed by the skin, contributing to conditions such as to dry, itchy skin, brittle hair and irritation of existing allergies.
Getting back to the original problem - Cryptosporidium
In the UK, normally cryptosporidium occurs in such small amounts in the water supply, and generally is not harmful to healthy people that tap water is not screened for it. What was (or is) going on in Galway?
Where does the cryptosporidium come from?
Cryptosporidium originates in both animal and human faeces. So slurry, septics and archaic sewage treatment plants that did not receive the magic wand of the Celtic tiger are the cause. It is transmitted by contact of this material with the mouth. Transport may be through contaminated material such as soil, water uncooked food or food that has been in contact with the faeces of an infected individual. Infection then occurs when the medium is transferred to the mouth and swallowed.
Cryptosporidium oocysts are extremely resistant, making them almost impossible to kill- heat and chemical disinfectants are useless! The best solution therefore is the complete removal of the oocysts from your water using a ceramic cartridge. Ceramic cartridges, made of the earth, naturally filter like the earth. They remove all particles down to .9 micron in diameter. Cryptosporidium cysts are 4 micron in diameter so are completely removed. Guaranteed!