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Drinking Water Fact Sheet: Disinfection Byproducts

Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) form when chlorine or other disinfectants react with organic material (from the decomposition of leaves and other vegetation) naturally found in drinking water sources. The use of chlorine to disinfect drinking water has been hailed as one of the major public health breakthroughs in the 20th century, resulting in a large decrease in mortality from waterborne infectious disease. However, in 1976 the National Cancer Institute published data showing that chloroform, a chlorination byproduct, caused cancer in rodents. There is now evidence that disinfection—though pivotal in fighting infectious disease—may also result in cancer and other health risks for humans. 


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In the Spotlight

  • September 28, 2016
    Speaking Tour: Heat Advisory
    PSR's Dr. Alan Lockwood will visit 6 states this fall to highlight the health effects of climate change and speak about his new book, Heat Advisory.