Water Disasters – Cancer Causing Haloacetic Acids in Trenton Water
WATER CONTAMINATION ALERT – Individuals who drink water containing Haloacetic Acids in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) over many years, may experience problems with their liver, kidneys or central nervous system and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
Trenton, NJ: TRENTON WATER WORKS NOTICE – DISTRIBUTED JANUARY 5, 2018
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR DRINKING WATER
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS RELATED TO HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5) IN YOUR DRINKING WATER
QUESTION: WHAT ARE HALOACETIC ACIDS (HAA5)?
ANSWER: Haloacetic Acids are chemicals that are created in a water distribution system when chlorine used to
disinfect water from bacterial contamination reacts with the bacteria (organic material). In other words they are a
by-product of the disinfection process. Based upon Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies and standards,
individuals who drink water containing Haloacetic Acids in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) over
many years, may experience problems with their liver, kidneys or central nervous system and may have an
increased risk of getting cancer.
QUESTION: HAVE I BEEN PUT AT RISK BECAUSE I DRANK THE WATER?
ANSWER: Based upon the EPA warning, increased risk comes with consuming water with HAA5’s over the (MCL)
for many years. If you have particular health concerns or have other pre-existing health issues, it is recommended
you discuss this notice with your health care professional.
QUESTION: I GOT SICK WITH SYMPTOMS CONSISTENT WITH FOOD POISONING, CAN HAA5’S CAUSE THIS?
ANSWER: No. Haloacetic Acids do not cause food poisoning or create immediate sickness. Food poisoning is
caused by bacteria, such as E. coli or fecal coliform ingested from a variety of sources. Any sickness from
Haloacetic Acids would be created through excessive exposure over a long period of time.
QUESTION: IF THE WATER IS SAFE TO DRINK, WHY AM I GETTING THIS NOTICE?
COUNTY OF MERCER
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
DIVISION OF PUBLIC HEALTH
MCDADE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
640 SOUTH BROAD STREET
P.O. BOX 8068
TRENTON, NEW JERSEY 08650-0068
(609) 396-8014 FAX
BRIAN M. HUGHES
KELVIN S. GANGES ANDREW A. MAIR
Chief of Staff County Administrator
KRISTIN REED MARYGRACE BILLEK
Acting Health Officer Director
ANSWER: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires a water system to provide this mandatory notice
when a water standard is not met. As a customer and consumer of the water, you have a right to know what is in
the water you are consuming.
QUESTION: IS THIS NOTICE AND VIOLATION RELATED TO THE PREVIOUS NOTICES THAT WERE SENT?
ANSWER: These violations are not related. This particular violation may be related when low water pressure
incidents occur. Low water pressure in the system can create areas where there is an increase in sedimentation,
and inadequate treatment of natural organic material thus creating a buildup of chlorine by-products. Even
though the system can actively flush the system to remove these sediments, their presence in the system may
increase the risk for formation of the chlorine by-products.
QUESTION: THIS VIOLATION HAPPENED IN NOVEMBER, WHY AM I BEING INFORMED OF THIS ONLY NOW?
ANSWER: Testing for Haloacetic Acids requires determining a concentration of the substance in micrograms per
liter (parts per billion). This type of testing requires a much longer period before results are determined which can
be from two to four weeks. Once a violation is confirmed by the NJDEP, a violation notice must be issued and then
the notice must be prepared, reviewed and approved before being printed and distributed. Unfortunately, this can
take up to thirty days to complete. However, please note that the notice is provided within the thirty-day notice
period required by the NJDEP and EPA.
QUESTION: HAVE I BEEN DRINKING WATER WITH HIGH LEVELS OF TTHM’S SINCE NOVEMBER?
ANSWER: There is no way to determine that you have been drinking water with high levels of Haloacetic Acids at a
specific time or at a specific location within the distribution system. Haloacetic Acids sampling and testing is
conducted at several different locations and over several months. The best representation of what a Haloacetic
Acid test does is take a “snapshot” of the system on the day the sample is taken.
QUESTION: WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ASSURE THAT THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN?
ANSWER: Unfortunately, as with any water system, there are no guarantees that this will not happen again.
Haloacetic Acids normally form in areas of the distribution system where the water is moving slower and can
change. Increased flushing, further evaluation of treatment components and identification of low water pressure
causes are recommended along with the continuation of sampling and testing of the water in accordance to state
and federal regulations.
QUESTION: WHO SHOULD I CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION?
ANSWER: For more information, please contact the Trenton Water Works Water Filtration Plant Laboratory at
609-989-3379 of Trenton Water Works, 333 Cortland Street, PO Box 528, Trenton, NJ 08604-0528.