Dear editor: I wish to congratulate your journalist, Gary Kean, for an excellent article on the dangers of high levels of trihalomethanes (THMs) in the drinking water in many municipalities of this province. The article is excellently researched and beautifully crafted.
The challenge, in my opinion, is fourfold.
First, it is crucial to persuade people that THMs are, indeed, an important health issue. It is a challenging task because one cannot ascribe a death or illness directly and specifically to THM exposure.
Health Canada, the U.S. agencies (with lower limits of acceptable levels than ours), and medical sources are agreed that THMs are toxic and exposure to them carry health risks, including probable reproductive effects.
It would be preferable to have exposure to zero levels of THMs, but Health Canada considers the risk of exposure to over 100 ppb as seriously harmful in the long-term.
Second, people need to check the THM levels posted by the provincial government for their own community (the article provides the link). If the 2017 average value exceeds 100 ppb then, at the very least, the local council or equivalent should be told to send a flyer to each household warning them of the level and the corresponding risk.
Third, if the community is large, the council should consider THM mitigation methods as a high priority. Unfortunately, there is rarely the pressure to do so from voters compared with filling potholes.
The article points out some approaches, and it is to be hoped that funding will be quickly found to establish a pilot plant based upon the THM mitigation research of Dr. Tahir Husain at Memorial University’s St. John’s Campus.
Fourth, if the community cannot support the cost of THM mitigation then, in my opinion, the circulated community flyer should encourage residents to purchase an “NSF Standard 53” filter for their drinking tap or for a water pitcher. Such filters are obtainable in stores and online.
Doing nothing is simply not a (health-)wise option.
Geoff Rayner-Canham, Corner Brook