Are Cities Doing Enough to Remove Cancer-Causing Chemicals From Drinking Water—

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 9, Pg. 88-94


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Is drinking water with its more than 300 organic chemicals present in trace quantities, a cause of cancer? Are there technically and economically feasible ways to remove these chemicals? Some environmentalists, like the Environmental Defense Fund's Robert Harris, say that there is good evidence linking drinking-water quality with cancer. Accordingly, he argues, any water utility taking water from a river that has industry along its banks should be required to install granular activated carbon beds to remove most of the organics. He claims, as does EPA, that for plants over 10 mgd, the cost of carbon treatment would be only $4 to $9 per typical family per year. On the other hand, water-utility managers like Carmen Guarino of Philadelphia say that the evidence linking water-quality and cancer is far from thorough; and that installing carbon for organics removal would be very costly — perhaps $26/yr for a typical household. Here are case histories on New Orleans, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Denver, and other cities.

Subject Headings: Chemical treatment | Water treatment plants | Diseases | Industrial wastes

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