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Risk for Pregnant Women

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), high levels of chlorination byproducts (CBPs) in drinking water put pregnant women at a higher risk for miscarriages or having children with birth defects. They concluded that an estimated 100,000 women across the United States faced elevated risks during pregnancy because of contaminated municipal tap water.// According to the study, just outside Washington, had the most pregnant women at risk in an individual community or water system.

WSSC drinking water was pretty safe. "I speak from a unique perspective. I'm nearly six months pregnant and I drink our water every day," Kalinowski said. Chlorine is added to tap water to kill microbes. The environmental groups said chlorine also reacts with organic matter, including sewage and animal waste from run-off, to form harmful CBPs.

"Dirty source water going into the treatment plant means water contaminated with chlorination byproducts coming out of your tap," Jane Houlihan, EWG's research director, said in a statement. "The solution is cleaning up our lakes, rivers, and streams, not just bombarding our water supply with chlorine." EWG and US PIRG called for immediate action to clean up the lakes and rivers that provide tap water to reduce the use of chlorination.

Kalinowski felt that in the meantime, the groups suggested that pregnant women reduce exposure to CBPs by using carbon filters. "Pregnant women also might want to switch to non-chlorinated bottled water," Houlihan added. And, also added that they should take shorter showers and baths, since CBPs can be in inhaled or absorbed through the skin.


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