Trihalomethanes (THMs) ” are you getting some idea on how deadly this cocktail could be, if ignored in the city of Cambridge?

By  | April 18, 2010 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Cambridge's Dirty Drinking Water

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trihalomethanes (THMs) are chemical compounds in which three of the four hydrogen atoms of methane (CH4) are replaced by halogen atoms. Many trihalomethanes find uses in industry as solvents or refrigerants. THMs are also environmental pollutants, and many are considered carcinogenic. Trihalomethanes with all the same halogen atoms are called haloforms.

Chloroform is a very common solvent used in organic chemistry. It is a significantly less polar solvent than water, well-suited to dissolving many organic compounds.

Although still toxic and potentially carcinogenic, chloroform is significantly less harmful than carbon tetrachloride. Because of the health and regulatory issues associated with the use of carbon tetrachloride, in modern chemistry laboratories chloroform is used as a cheaper, cleaner alternative wherever possible.


Chloriform (yes the anathestic) , Bromiform and several other THM’s (Trihalomethanes) have also

Trihalomethanes are formed as a by-product when chlorine or bromine are used to disinfect water for drinking (commonly known as disinfection by-products). They result from the reaction of chlorine and/or bromine with organic matter in the water being treated. The THMs produced may have adverse health effects at high concentrations, and many governments set limits on the amount permissible in drinking water. In the United States, the EPA limits the total concentration of chloroform, bromoform, bromodichloromethane, and dibromochloromethane to 80 parts per billion in treated water. This number is called “total trihalomethanes” (TTHM).

Chloroform is also formed in swimming pools which are disinfected with chlorine or hypochlorite in the haloform reaction with organic substances (urine, sweat and skin particles). The reaction to phosgene under the influence of UV is also possible. Some of the THMs are quite volatile and may easily vaporize into the air. This makes it possible to inhale while showering, for example. The EPA, however, has determined that this exposure is minimal compared to that from consumption. In swimmers uptake of THMs is greatest via the skin with dermal absorption accounting for 80% of THM uptake[1]. Exercising in a chlorinated pool increases the toxicity of a “safe” chlorinated pool atmosphere[2] with toxic effects of chlorine byproducts greater in young swimmers than older swimmers[3].



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