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Tag Archives: HaloSan drinking water

  • Town's Drinking Water Treated with Non-Approved Chemical for 10 Years

    A CNN report has recently revealed that people living in the town of Denmark, South Carolina have been exposed to a water treatment chemical not certified safe for human consumption for more than 10 years.

    Following concerns of rust-colored water flowing out of their taps, residents began collecting water samples for testing and opting for bottled water or other safer options rather than drinking tap water, even with government assurances that their water was safe to drink.

    But CNN has revealed information that throws those assurances into question. In an effort to control the naturally-occurring iron bacteria present in the water that is responsible for the rust-like deposits and red stained water, the state was adding HaloSan to one of Denmark's four water wells. Yet, Halosan is a chemical that is not approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for disinfecting drinking water. According to Gerald Wright, mayor of Denmark, all four wells feed into one water distribution system that supplies residents across the city.

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    While this is currently under investigation, it remains unclear what health effects this unapproved chemical may have had on the 3,000 residents who have been exposed to it for a decade. But some residents are blaming the water for the diseases and illnesses they are suffering from.

    HaloSan is a chemical that is typically used to disinfect spas and swimming pools, but it is not approved for treating drinking water and until now, has never been used to disinfect drinking water before. But the South Carolina has been using it to treat drinking water supplied to residents of Denmark from 2008 to 2018, even though it shouldn't have done so.

    Based on the way in which the HaloSan treatment unit was advertised, South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control were falsely led to believe that it was in fact EPA-approved for treating drinking water. However, a spokesperson for the EPA disputes this, saying it is not approved for treating drinking water.

    "HaloSan has not undergone the necessary evaluations as part of the pesticide registration process and, therefore, EPA cannot confirm the safe use of this product for the disinfection of drinking water," an EPA spokesperson told CNN.

    According to a 2007 EPA health risk assessment HaloSan can cause significant skin and eye irritations, and is associated with health effects such as: skin rashes, itching, burning, red/discolored skin, blistering, allergic reactions including skin welts/hives, bleeding and allergic contact dermatitis, as well as eye irritations, including eye pain and swollen eyes.

    It is a legal requirement that any "product intended to be used to disinfect drinking water must be registered by the EPA," and it must be scientifically proven that "the product can perform its intended function without undue harm to people or the environment."

    According to the EPA, even when the HaloSan is being used for its intended purpose in pesticides, the dosage needs to be regulated. It is unclear whether the dosage added to Denmark's water system was regulated, or if the water was filtered.

    When Marc Edwards, an engineer and water researcher at Virginia Tech, first learned that HaloSan had been added to Denmark's drinking water he was "dumbfounded".

    "I did a thorough search, and I've never seen it approved for a public water supply before," he said. "And the EPA approvals that I saw, none of them were for municipal potable water." Nor is there any evidence that the dosage added to the drinking water supply was regulated.

    "You have to make sure you don't put too much of it in the water. And there was no way that they could prove that they weren't exceeding the recommended dose," Edwards explained. "There's a maximum allowed amount, even for industrial applications. And they have no way of proving that, that level is not being exceeded."

    Yet, without knowing the concentration levels in water, its difficult to determine the potential health impacts, said Joe Charbonnet, science and policy associate at the Green Science Policy Institute, who expressed concerns that HaloSan could produce toxic chemical compounds when used as a drinking water disinfectant.

    It is very concerning that a potentially toxic chemical that is classified as a pesticide and routinely used in pesticides, is added to drinking water, and even more so that its use is unregulated, with no indication that the water was subsequently filtered. Just another good reason why consumers are well advised to invest in a good quality water filter that is capable of removing a wide range of potentially harmful contaminants that either occur naturally in water, make their way into drinking water supplies from industrial or agricultural sources, or are added to the water during the treatment process in order to kill bacteria and other harmful pathogens.

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