Haloacetic Acids


Haloacetic Acids Filtration

Chlorine and chloramine are added to tap water to act as disinfectants – that is, to make the water safe from potentially harmful bacteria, viruses, and live cysts. An unfortunate side effect of disinfectant usage in water is that the chlorine or chloramine can combine with organic matter in the water to create new compounds known as disinfection byproducts (DBP). One of the most common classes of DBPs formed in tap water is a group of chemical compounds known as haloacetic acids.

What Are Haloacetic Acids?

Haloacetic acids (HAAs) are organic compounds that contain chlorine and bromine, and can be formed as a byproduct of disinfection usage in water. Water that has a lot of organic particles, water that is warmer, and water that is more acidic (lower pH) tend to allow greater HAA formation.

Higher levels of HAA are more likely to be found in water supplies from surface water sources such as rivers or reservoirs due to higher organic content. HAAs are less likely to be found in groundwater because soil and rock act as filters to reduce organic matter.

What Are the Main Haloacetic Acids?

The five most common haloacetic acids – known collectively as HAA5, are:
  1. monochloroacetic acid (MCA)
  2. dichloroacetic acid (DCA)
  3. trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
  4. monobromoacetic acid (MBA)
  5. dibromoacetic acid (DBA)

Why Do I Need to Remove Haloacetic Acids in Drinking Water?

Haloacetic acids in water – and particularly HAA5 in water – are quite dangerous, as some of the more dangerous water disinfection byproducts. If your water contains the federal limit of haloacetic acids, your chance of developing cancer is 1 in 10,000; the longer you are exposed to the federal limit, the higher your chance of developing cancer. HAAs are also especially dangerous for pregnant women, as haloacetic acids in water can pose a risk to reproductive and developmental health, affecting both the mother and unborn child.

Although high levels of direct contact exposure to water with HAA5 or other HAAs is unlikely, its occurrence can result in red and irritated skin and eyes, as well as difficulty breathing. Water treatment is therefore very important to reduce HAA5 levels, and a haloacetic acids water filter becomes a valuable tool for home drinking water safety.

What Are the Effects of Haloacetic Acids in Drinking Water?

The biggest danger caused by HAA in drinking water is an increased risk of cancer – specifically, liver cancer, as studies have shown the development of liver tumors in animals exposed to haloacetic acids in drinking water.

The next biggest risk posed by haloacetic acids in water is an increased risk of birth defects. Animal studies have demonstrated poor fetal growth and malformed fetal hearts and kidneys due to pregnant animals’ exposure to HAA-contaminated water.

Aside from the dangers caused by drinking haloacetic acids in water, exposure to body surfaces by contaminated water can cause skin irritation, inflammation, and collagen damage.

There are enough dangers from HAA exposure that a haloacetic acids water filter would be a smart protective measure for your drinking water.

How Could I Be Exposed to HAA?

You can become exposed to HAA contamination in several ways. HAAs are easily absorbed by your body through drinking water. HAAs can also be absorbed through the skin, but fortunately don’t vaporize with steam at bathing water temperatures. Therefore, HAAs are potential public health concerns mainly from water that is used for drinking and cooking.

What are the Short-Term (Acute) Effects of HAA Exposure?

You are unlikely to be affected by short-term HAA exposure. In high concentrations, HAAs can be irritating and corrosive to the skin and eyes. However, HAA concentrations that form from DBPs are extremely dilute. For example, the concentration of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) typically found in drinking water with elevated haloacetic acids is at least one million times weaker than the concentration of TCA used in products for cosmetic skin peels. Additionally, although called “acids,” HAAs in water are at least partially in non-acidic states.

What are the Long-Term (Chronic) Effects of HAA Exposure?

Dichloroacetic acid (DCA) has been used for years in the treatment of some metabolic disorders, typically given at doses about 10,000 times higher than anyone would be exposed to in drinking water. Some side effects seen in patients include drowsiness, decreased fasting glucose and cholesterol, and mild tingling in the fingers and toes. At high concentrations of HAA exposure, toxic effects have been identified in the liver, testes, pancreas, brain, and nervous system of animals.

What are the Reproductive and Developmental Effects of HAA Exposure?

High concentrations of HAA in animals have shown developmental effects such as heart and kidney malformations and lower growth rates in newborns. Some studies on HAA effects on pregnant women and infants have found associations between HAA exposure and lower than normal birth weight in newborns.

How Does Multipure Protect You from Haloacetic Acids in Water?

Despite the potential for DBP formation in tap water, chlorine and other disinfectants remain a valuable tool in treating harmful microbial contaminants in drinking water at the municipal level. Because of this, you should consider the use of a haloacetic acids water filter as a safety measure to protect your water and home against the risks of HAA exposure and to improve your overall drinking water quality.

A study published in August 2006 found that total levels of HAAs in drinking water were not affected by storage or boiling, but that filtration was effective in decreasing levels. Multipure carbon blocks offer some of the best water filtration on the market.

Multipure's carbon block filters work as a haloacetic acids water filter by using multiple methods to not only treat the presence of HAA in your water, but also the presence of other potentially harmful contaminants in drinking water like asbestos, cysts, particulates, lead, mercury, PCBs, and chlorine.

Order your Multipure Products Now

A powerful Multipure drinking water treatment device, certified for NSF standard 53, improves your drinking water quality and protects your water and your health.

If you’re interested in a system to protect your drinking water from HAAs or other contaminants, please check out Multipure drinking water systems below or contact your local Multipure Independent Builder for more information.