By Jordanna Schriever | News.com.au
South Australians are drinking water containing potentially carcinogenic compounds, a new report warns. Freedom of Information data from SA Water shows the state’s tap water breached the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines or World Health Organisation guidelines 9298 times between January 2000 and July 2012.
While Government authorities say South Australians have nothing to fear, experts say it is unclear whether prolonged exposure would increase the risk of cancer.
The Cancer Council also said some animal studies had shown a link between the chemicals and some cancers. Friends of the Earth researcher Anthony Amis, who analysed the testing data, said the most breaches were on Kangaroo Island, followed by Loxton in the Riverland.
Most breaches in the metropolitan area occurred at Craigmore. ”I was quite shocked when I went through the figures and found so many breaches to the ADWG and WHO guidelines,” Mr Amis said. He said the most worrying breaches related to the potentially cancer causing by-products from the chlorine disinfection process, which was used to rid the water of harmful micro-organisms.
The by-products, called trihalomethanes (THMs), form when the chlorine reacts with organic matter in the water. There are four THMs which, when tested as a group, should not exceed 250 parts per billion.
“If these compounds were calculated individually, there were almost 3000 individual disinfection by-product breaches,” Mr Amis said. ”People with compromised immune systems have to be really careful about drinking chlorinated water.
“The main compounds the WHO are concerned about are the higher risk of bladder cancer and there could be slight rises in reproductive disorders as well,” he said.
Mr Amis said people in SA should install a tap filter.