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Volatile organic compounds in drinking water and their health risks

Water Toxins

Drinking water can contain a vast range of toxic substances, including substances recognized as carcinogenic or potentially carcinogenic to humans, such as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a growing group of chemicals found in drinking water and may result in a variety of health effects, including cancer.VOCs are used in industry, farming, transportation, and almost everyday household products. Many familiar chemical odors such as a freshly painted wall or a permanent non-adhesive marker are VOC odors. It has many commercial and industrial uses, including automotive, electronic, and plastic manufacturing. These VOCs contain carbon whose properties enable it to evaporate easily and move between air, soil, surface water, and groundwater. A 2006 U.S. Geological Survey study found that 90 of the country’s 98 aquifers were tested positive for at least one VOC. Sadly, when these chemicals contaminate local groundwater, they are difficult to dispose of.

VOCs readily dissolve and drain to groundwater, and most of these compounds result from human activity. Private wells located near industrial or commercial areas, gas stations, landfills, railways, or agricultural fields have an increased risk of VOC contamination. These chemicals can enter drinking water systems due to accidental leakage, spills, and inappropriate disposal. Some of the more common VOCs are: Trihalomethanes (THMs), like chloroform, are disinfection by-products from the recycling of chlorinated water in aquifers. Perchloroethylene (PCE) also known as tetrachloroethylene is a solvent present in dry cleaning products, adhesives, stain removers and paint, household cleaners, etc.VOCs alter the odor, appearance, and flavor of the water. They Smell like gasoline. Elevated concentrations can also give rise to an iridescent oily reflection at the surface of the water.

VOCs have various health impacts. Some are short-term, while others are long-term. Most negative impacts occur when people are exposed to contaminated drinking water for an extended period. There are 12 potentially carcinogenic VOCs (9 of which are classified as such by the EPA):
– 1,2,3-Trichloropropane,
– vinyl chloride
– Tetrachloroethylene (PCE or PERC)
– carbon tetrachloride
– benzene
– 1,1,2-Trichloroethane
– 1,4-dioxane
– 1,2-Dichloroethane
– styrene
– 1,2-Dichloropropane

Trichloroethylene (TCE), Dichloromethane (methylene chloride). VOCs include various chemicals which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and skin problems. Higher concentrations may irritate the lungs, as well as damage the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. Long-term exposure may also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. There is evidence that
Certain VOCs cause cancer in humans. The health impacts of VOCs depend on the concentration and duration of exposure to chemicals. Asthmatics can be more sensitive.

It is important to remember that certain VOCs, such as 1,4-dioxane, can only be disposed of through specialized treatments at the water supply facility. However, there are home treatment options available for the elimination of many VOCs. These may be removed, for example, using activated carbon filters. Furthermore, POU and POE systems such as ejector filters or entire house filtration systems are among the efficient options. Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems can also eliminate a large number of VOCs.

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