The toxic byproducts lurking in your drinking water linked to cancer

It seems like not even six months can go by without a new drinking water crisis looming.

From the lead contamination that rocked the country from Flint, Michigan, to Jackson, Mississippi to the nitrates that were found to be a danger to over five million Americans this past January, the safety of our drinking water in this country is questionable at best.

And now, a new health danger has been found to be lurking in our drinking water — a cancer-causing agent known as BDA — and it’s all thanks to the way we disinfect water in the U.S.

The most common method

You see, the most common method of disinfecting drinking water in the United States is by mixing it with chlorine — just like we do for our swimming pools.

And, there’s no doubt that doing so (despite how strange it seems to use such as strong, toxic smelling compound in drinking water) has been beneficial.

In fact, according to Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University, “Chlorination has saved millions of lives worldwide from diseases such as typhoid and cholera since its arrival in the early 20th century.”

Unfortunately, Prasse and a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins have found that killing those deadly diseases isn’t all chlorinating our water is doing…

It’s also producing previously unidentified toxic byproducts.

When you mix phenols with chlorine

That’s because drinking water generally has compounds known as phenols in it. These are chemical compounds that occur naturally in the environment and are also abundant in personal care products and pharmaceuticals.

So, basically, when the shampoo you use washes down the drain or you toss out your old medicine, phenols end up in the environment and then in our drinking water.

The problem is that when these phenols mix with chlorine, the process creates a large number of byproducts. And, in their experiments that replicated normal chlorination processes cities use to clean drinking water, the team found that two compounds which are produced are 2-butene-1,4-dial (BDA) and chloro-2-butene-1,4-dial (or BDA with chlorine attached).

Yup, chlorinating drinking water produced not one but two forms of the known carcinogen BDA, so each time you drink water from your faucet, you could be getting a side of cancer with your hydration boost.

These findings raise the question about whether the U.S. should make the switch to alternative methods to disinfect drinking water, including the use of ozone, UV treatment or simple filtration.

“In other countries, especially in Europe, chlorination is not used as frequently, and the water is still safe from waterborne illnesses. In my opinion, we need to evaluate when chlorination is really necessary for the protection of human health and when alternative approaches might be better,” said Prasse.

Protecting your drinking water today

But, until real change happens, you still need to take steps to protect yourself from the cancer lurking in your drinking water right now.

As you can imagine, the best way to do this is by using a water filtration system to clean your water.

However, as the CDC warns — not all water filters are created equal.

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While some only help your water smell and taste better, it’s far more important to look for a filter that can clear out harmful chemicals and toxins.

According to water filter companies, activated carbon filters can help to remove everything from chemicals and pharmaceuticals to chlorine and heavy metals like lead.

And, of course, if you want to go all out, one of the most thorough options for home filtration is a reverse osmosis system, which is capable of removing not only bacteria but also most residual chemicals.

For enhanced protection from the chemicals contaminating your drinking water, Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a renowned integrative medical doctor and researcher, also recommends undergoing regular cleanses to help your body detox from any chemicals that do sneak through the filter.

You can find his recommendations for safe and natural detoxification here.

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  1. New toxic byproducts of disinfecting drinking water — Johns Hopkins University
  2. Water filters for your home — Government of Western Australia Department of Health
  3. The Different Types of Water Filters — Soft Water Filtration
  4. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration – How It Works — Soft Water Filtration
  5. Water Filters: How Do They Work? — PUR
  6. Choosing Home Water Filters & Other Water Treatment Systems — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.