While sorting through hundreds of tweets today, I notice one item that caused me a lot of concern. @SaveTheWater tweeted that #Tulsa was adding chloramines to the City’s drinking water. Going to the link brings up a page on their web site with the scary headline:
“Contaminated drinking water news: City of Tulsa – chloramine added to Tulsa drinking water supply – True facts about chloramines”
On the page were two factual news items from a local television station followed by links to several web sites that were filled with inaccurate information on chloramines. One of the links did go to the USEPA FAQ page on chloramines, which does have good information. One of the negative web pages that I am all too familiar with is run by Citizens Concerned About Chloramines. CCAC has worked closely with the Vermont group that tried to bias a survey by the CDC on chloramines and any potential skin rashes not so many years ago. People Concerned about Chloramine actually contacted the people who were going to be interviewed by CDC field scientists and coached them to say that they got skin rashes from using chloraminated water. The CCAC website is filled with bias, innuendo and false claims.
Now, @SaveTheWater is a fine organization that usually tweets about such innocuous items as “Did You Know: That it takes 11 gals of water to make for one slice of wheat bread?” In my humble opinion, they are way out of their depth taking on a topic as complex as this if they list information by the USEPA and CCAC as somehow equal. Also, where did that headline come from?
The facts: Yes, Tulsa, OK changed its disinfectant from chlorine to chloramines starting in July 2012. Tulsa, like hundreds of other cities and water agencies are changing their secondary disinfectant so that they can comply with the Stage 2 Disinfectants/Disinfection By-Products Regulation finalized by the USEPA several years ago. It appears from Tulsa’s website that they have done what is needed to let the population know that extra steps have to be taken once chloramines are introduced.
Chloramines are an approved drinking water disinfectant and they are safe. The use of chloramines is approved by the USEPA, the state of Oklahoma and all other states where chloramines are being used. How do I know all of this? I was the person in charge of the conversion to chloramines for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in 1985 when we improved the water quality for 16 million people. We dealt with concerns raised by the public regarding MWDSC’s conversion in 1985. However, the current level of rhetoric about chloramines is now approaching the hysteria of the anti-fluoridation crowd.
I urge all who are tweeting and blogging about drinking water quality to get the facts and not fall into the easy trap of posting scary headlines based on inaccurate information.