The Other Paper, So. Burlington, July 12, 2007
Shelburne News, July 19, 2007
CWD Report Ignores Health Problems
Champlain Water District (CWD) consumers recently received the CWD’s Water Quality 2007 report via newspaper insert.
Because of numerous complaints about CWD water since the introduction of chloramine in April 2006, Vermonters for a Clean Environment has been learning about this complicated subject.
The CWD’s Water Quality 2006 report claimed “widespread public confidence” in their water. A similar claim is notably absent from the 2007 report, as is any acknowledgment of the many, many complaints about health problems from CWD water including rashes, respiratory and digestive problems since the switch to chloramine.
CWD’s 2007 report is full of graphs, charts and technical information about disinfection by-products (DBPs) of chlorine, which the EPA is requiring water system operators to reduce by 2012. The report cites findings from the EPA that long-term exposure to chlorine’s DBPs may result in an increased cancer or reproductive health issues.
However, recent research has disproven the link between DBPs and reproductive health issues. Further, the EPA conducted inadequate research on chloramine’s DBPs prior to encouraging water system operators to use chloramine. Scientists are now discovering chloramine DBPs that are far more toxic than those known to be created by chlorine.
Vermont’s legislature held hearings on the chloramine problem during the recent legislative session, and encouraged the Vermont Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a stakeholder group to explore alternatives to the chloramine. You did not read about the stakeholder group in the CWD’s Water Quality 2007 report, perhaps because the CWD has refused to participate.
Careful reading of the 2006 and 2007 reports clearly show that the CWD was well within compliance with standards prior to adding chloramine. In other words, chloramine is not necessary at this time.
Citizens and businesses served by the CWD continue to suffer the health effects of exposure to chloraminated water. Consumers who can afford to have installed expensive whole-house water treatment systems (chlorine can be filtered out cheaply but chloramine cannot). Users who cannot afford these filters travel outside the CWD to shower. They buy bottled water for drinking and cooking. If your health is affected by chloramine, you cannot use the water in your home.
The CWD is choosing to ignore complaints and refuses to engage in discussions about alternatives. This is not good public service. CWD customers who are having health problems are right to be outraged by this breakdown in health protection. The CWD needs to stop playing defense and start working with state agencies and customers to find an alternative to chloramine.
If your doctor is prescribing steroidal creams and inhalers, if you were previously free of skin rashes and asthma but are now having problems, talk to your doctor. Be aware, though, that your doctor will not be able to make a clinical diagnosis because there are no studies on chloramine’s health effects on people. Report problems to the CWD, call the Vermont Department of Health, Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources and your legislators. Learn more by going to www.vce.org/chloramine.org, and contact People Concerned about Chloramine at 802-651-8753.
By working together, we can assure safe drinking water for all.
Annette Smith is executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.