New Research Finds No Link Between Drinking Water and Pregnancy Risk

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

August 8, 2005

New Research Finds No Link Between Drinking Water and Pregnancy Risk

A landmark research study on the relationship between drinking water and miscarriage does not support a link chlorination byproducts and pregnancy loss. The new national study, “Drinking Water Disinfection By-Product and Pregnancy Outcome,” was conducted by the University of North Carolina (UNC) through the joint funding of the American Water Works Association’s Research Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The UNC findings counter the results of a less detailed 1998 study that reported a connection between a group of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) known as trihalomethanes and miscarriage.

Trihalomethanes are formed as a byproduct when chlorine disinfectants react with organic materials naturally present in water. Existing EPA regulations limit amounts of trihalomethanes present in drinking water.

From December 2000 and April 2004, 3,132 women from the three facility areas who were planning a pregnancy or who had been pregnant for less than 12 weeks were recruited to participate in the study. The new study found that women with higher exposure to trihalomethanes through drinking water had no greater risk of pregnancy loss than other women.

In response to the finding, C. T. “Kip” Howlett, Jr., Executive Director of the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council, commented, “Waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, common at the turn of the last century, have been virtually eliminated in the U.S. largely due to the widespread use of chlorine for water disinfection. The new UNC study should lessen any concerns of expectant mothers regarding the safety of tap water.”

To read the complete UNC study, please go to: ( PDF)
Kenyan Household Water Treatment Trial Reports Healthy Impact

The findings of a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among Kenyan villagers shows that cases of diarrhea and deaths from the illness decreased sharply when household water supplies were treated by the family using easy-to-use, affordable chlorine-based disinfection methods. The CDC study found that using either the Proctor & Gamble Co. product PUR, a combined disinfectant and flocculent product, or a solution of diluted bleach in the water reduces instances of diarrhea. Recently reported in the British Journal of Medicine, the study is the first research to demonstrate a reduction in mortality based on water treatment and safe storage practices.

A total of 6,650 people living in rural western Kenya were studied for a 20-week period and randomly divided into three groups. The control group handled water its usual manner, while a second group used diluted bleach and a third group used PUR. The results give additional credibility to the conclusion that inexpensive disinfection methods work effectively in remote areas, according to CDC officials.

Where source water is relatively clear, diluted bleach was found to produce the same health benefits as PUR. However, the Proctor & Gamble product was found to be particularly effective in the disinfection of highly turbid water, as it both disinfects and separates out dirt, parasites, metals and other contaminants, according to the CDC.
Committee Approves 2006 Funding for Clean Water State Revolving Fund

A Congressional appropriations conference committee recently approved support for clean water program funding. Under compromise spending legislation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) will receive $900 million for fiscal year 2006. The Drinking Water SRF will get $850 million under the same agreement.

The funding level for the Clean Water SRF is $120 million more than the EPA requested, however it is $191 million less than approved in FY 2005. Conversely, the Drinking Water SRF funding level is equal to the EPA’s request and $7 million more than in FY 2005. The final legislation also gives permanent authority for states to transfer funds between the two SRF’s.

The conference committee report accompanying the legislation details the negotiated compromise between House and Senate spending bills approved earlier this year. The report shows that conferees agreed to the following actions in relation to the approved spending bill:

* Reduce funding for the drinking water program by $1.5 million
* Reduce funding for state drinking water primacy program grants by $854,000
* Increase funding for state water pollution control program grants by $1 million
* Increase funding for targeted watershed grants by $1.9 million
* Increase funding for wastewater operator training by $1.2 million

Drinking Water Worry Tops Chinese Environmental Concerns

The number one Chinese environmental concern is access to clean drinking water, according to a recent survey by the state run All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF). More than four million people from 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities or special administrative regions took part in the survey during April and May.

People were surveyed through the Internet, cell phones and from mailed in questionnaires. More than 96 percent of those surveyed said that China was challenged by a water shortage crisis and establishing a water-saving society is the most effective way to access a solution to the problem. Respondents were nearly unanimous in supporting additional taxes to fund environmental reforms.

Additional environmental concerns raised in the survey include air quality, domestic rubbish disposal, industrial waste, desertification and the destruction of vegetation.

In 2004, China’s investment in environmental protection was 1.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Some experts and public recommended in the survey that the allowance be increased to a full 2 percent to help assist environmental protection efforts in the country’ vast rural areas.

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