Professor Susan Richardson specializes in water treatment and drinking water standards.
In this podcast, she explores
1. The history of treating drinking water in the U.S.,
2. When and why scientists raised concerns over water disinfection by-products (DBPs) and cancer, and
3. Options for decreasing these DBPS, such as using granular activated carbon as a water filter in the treatment phase as well as regulation changes.
Water treatment is important in ridding our supply of pathogens and water borne diseases. However, these disinfection by-products combine with organic materials and minerals in the environment when they are released to form DBPs.
Susan Richardson explains how she first learned about this issue and where we are today in facing it. She has been the Arthur Sease Williams Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Standards at the University of South Carolina for the last six years, and previously was a research chemist at the U.S. EPA National Exposure Research Laboratory for 25 years.
She tells listeners that when DBPs were linked to bladder and other cancers in humans, scientists sought her expertise in drinking water standards and these by-products in particular. She provides more details about which DBPs are the most toxic and explains that unfortunately the ones the U.S. doesn’t regulate are much more toxic than ones it does. Richardson addresses some of the complications such as environmental variability across regions affecting iodine and bromates, for example.
She describes ways to address DBPs that will still prevent water borne diseases and uphold drinking water standards. For example, she describes utilizing granular activated carbon as a sort of water filter right after chloramine is introduced to remove the precursors.
To find out more, google EPS regulations. To learn about your local DBP levels, google water quality reports and the name of your city.