Vancouverites: Boil Your Water

We would advise residents of Greater Vancouver to boil drinking water for at least three minutes, said SPEC director Paul Hundal. Then put it in a glass container and leave it in the fridge overnight to allow the trihalomethanes to dissipate. People should also try and avoid plastic containers that could leach dioxins into their water.

GVRD medical health officer Dr John Blatherwick confirmed that turbidity levels as high as 6.5 NTUs (Health Canada issues warnings for levels above 5 NTUs) have been measured at the Seymour Reservoir in the wake of heavy rains and rapid snowmelt. Turbidity is caused by silt and organic matter in the water and can cause gastrointestinal ailments. The GVRD uses increased amounts of chlorine to disinfect turbid water. Chlorine, however, can combine with organic material in water to create cancer-causing trihalomethanes.

SPEC has urged the GVRD to implement a management plan to restore the North Shore watersheds damaged by decades of logging and roadbuilding. A comprehensive restoration plan would allow nature to stabilize the slopes and biologically filter drinking water, thereby reducing turbidity and decreasing the need for increased chlorine.

Studies by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group and the US Public Interest Research Group, ( conclude that trihalomethanes are linked to cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. HIV patients, whose immune systems have been compromised by disease, cancer therapy or organ transplants have always been particularly susceptible to water borne infections. Now the hazards of increased chlorine use could include even healthy young adults among those at risk.

Information: Paul Hundal 604 736-7732, 604 926-9273

Society Promoting Environmental Conservation
2150 Maple Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 3T3
phone (604) 736-SPEC, FAX (604) 736-7115

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