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Haloacetic Acids in Your Water: The Need-to-Know Facts

What are HAAs and Why Care?

HAAs, or haloacetic acids, refer to a handful of compounds that can occur in tap water as a result of common municipal treatment methods such as chlorination. HAAs can also result in water that is treated with chloramines.  These acids are created when organic and inorganic materials already present in water react with the disinfectants (chlorine, chloramine) used to make water drinkable. The specific HAA created as a result of this exposure depends on the organic or inorganic material itself, as well as the treatment – usually chlorine or chloramine. Since HAAs appear in water after treatment, they’re commonly referred to as ‘treatment byproducts.’ Learn more about haloacetic acids in your water. 

What does this mean for me?

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Both chlorine and chloramine are common methods used by cities and municipalities to treat water for homes and businesses. It’s a concern for some populations because certain kinds of HAAs have been found to cause cancers in some lab animals. Other side effects include skin irritation, skin inflammation, and even birth defects in some cases.

Examples of HAAs in Water

New Jersey recently dealt with water that had been contaminated by elevated levels of HAAs, putting large populations of the state, specifically Newark residents, at increased risk for certain cancers. Massachusetts and West Virginia have also each dealt with recent haloacetic acid issues affecting their respective reservoirs.

The reasons for these contaminations are not uncommon — issues like agricultural runoff, flooding, and sewage contamination are all contributing factors that many regions face when it comes to proper management of watersheds. The best way to prevent HAA contamination, as a result, is by protecting our water sources initially so that treatment like chlorination is needed as little as possible.

How Can I Tell if I have HAA-Contaminated Water?

The first step to identifying potential contaminants or toxins in your drinking water is to contact your local utility or public health department. They should be able to tell you not only what kinds of contaminants are in the water supply, but also what treatment method is being used to eliminate the health risks associated with those contaminants. You can also test water yourself with a home test kit, or arrange for a more advanced chemical test from a water expert like Culligan.

After you determine what’s impacting your tap water, you can make a more informed decision about treating it.

Treating Water With HAAs

If you find out you have HAAs in your water, it will be helpful to know what kind in order to make sure that whatever treatment method you choose will effectively remove the specific haloacetic acid(s) present in your water. Different types of filtration and water treatment systems are generally specialized to address different water issues, so it’s best to talk to a professional like your local Culligan to both find out what’s in your water, and the best method to treat it.

Culligan provides several water filtration and treatment products that effectively remove harmful haloacetic acids and are certified by the Water Quality Association and NSF International to provide the best-quality drinking water available.

Preventing HAA Water Contamination

In order to ensure you have clean, un-contaminated drinking water in your home, it’s recommended that you have your water tested at least once a year.  If you rely on well water for your home, you should be testing your water every six months for optimal safety and drink-ability.

Additionally, if you live near an agricultural area, or if your region has recently experienced flooding, if your well has undergone work or repairs, you’ll want to test your water as soon as possible to ensure no contaminants have been introduced into the supply.

Culligan is always happy to test your water and learn your individual water needs. He or she can also make a recommendation about what kind of water treatment system or water filter would be right for treating haloacetic acids in your water.