New Euro Chlor Science Publication on Human Health
Friday, February 3, 2017
New dossier summarises current scientific research on disinfection by-products and their implications
Euro Chlor, representing the European Chlor-Alkali industry, has published a new title in its series of Science Dossiers: “Human health aspects of halogenated organic by-products from use of active chlorine”. This dossier reviews the health implications of those by-products formed during current, non-reagent uses of active chlorine solutions (e.g. as a biocide).
Apart from their use in chemical synthesis, active chlorine solutions have a wide range of applications ranging from purification of water for drinking, swimming and cooling to cleaning, bleaching and disinfection. Generally these applications make use of the powerful oxidizing properties of these solutions, and most of the organic matter with which these solutions react during use is oxidized by incorporation of oxygen, dehydrogenation etc. A small part of the active chlorine, however, can take part in chlorination reactions which create halogenated organic by-products (also called disinfection by-products or DBPs).
The health implications of these by-products have been of particular interest to toxicologists, health professionals and regulators. This was initially because of concerns that they may include, or be similar to, some carcinogenic or asthma causing molecules.
This dossier reviews the scientific research exposure profiles and epidemiology of the relevant by-products formed during current, non-reagent uses of active chlorine solutions. It addresses both the main chemical families of the by-products and the many minor components; including often uncharacterisable halogenated macromolecules that make up the balance of the effluent mixtures. It considers the quantities of halogenated by-products typically produced during the various uses of active chlorine solutions (such as drinking water, swimming pools and cleaning) and assesses their potential impact on human health.
The work draws conclusions consistent with the World Health Organisation who continue to emphasise that standards of protection of potable water must not be compromised because of concerns about potential risks from disinfection by-products. It also agrees that, with correct management and use of these essential biocides, such DBP formation can be effectively minimised.
Additional information on the European Chlor-Alkali sector and its scientific publications on www.eurochlor.org/science .
N.B. This dossier accompanies one published in 2010 on the environmental impact of such by-products.