Adelaide residents drinking possibly carcinogenic compound at unsafe levels.


Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth today released a report about drinking water quality issues in South Australia. The report was compiled from a 9000 page Freedom of Information request from SA Water which covered water quality results between January 2000 and July 2012.

The report found:

Thousands of breaches recorded for chlorine disinfection byproducts, particularly compounds defined as Trihalomethanes. Bromodichloromethane/Dichlorobromoform were detected over 2000 times throughout the state, with approximately one third of detections found in the Adelaide region. Some chlorine disinfection by-products have been linked to bladder cancer and reproductive problems.

“For Adelaide residents the chemical of most concern would be Bromodichloromethane”, said Anthony Amis from Friends of the Earth. “We found that many suburbs in Adelaide have been exposed to this chemical above the level which the World Health Organisation (WHO) believe is safe. It seems very strange that neither SA Water or SA Health have ever made a public statement about this substance – it doesn't raise any mention in SA Water Quality Reports.  Why?”

Several years ago the Department of Health granted special dispensation on Kangaroo Island because of consistent Trihalomethane non-compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. One wonders whether this has also occurred in regards to Adelaide's drinking water?”

Approximately 97% of Adelaide breaches concerned Bromodichloromethane. Craigmore in the cities north recorded the most samples above WHO guideline levels. Many rural towns are also exposed to this chemical, with the town of Willunga recording the most breaches in the state.

Bromodichloromethane is regarded by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible carcinogen to humans.

The community in South Australia recording the most breaches to drinking water guidelines for the past dozen years was: Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. Most of these breaches occurred before the construction of a new water treatment plant on the island in 2007. The highest number of breaches in the Adelaide region were: Craigmore, Happy Valley, Seaford Rise, Blakeview and Elizabeth Downs.

South Australian's should also be asking why they haven't been informed that they have been consuming drinking water containing possibly carcinogenic substances for much of the past decade and most likely many years earlier as well.

It is simply not good enough for Government authorities to know that a situation has existed and not inform the public of the potential risks associated with consuming drinking water with levels of Bromodichloromethane, higher than what the World Health Organisation recommends.

The report is available here.

For further information contact Anthony Amis on 0425 841 564.