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Chemical found in drinking water causes more than 1,300 cases of bladder cancer a year

The i logo The i 15/01/2020
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A chemical found in drinking water causes more than 1,300 cases of bladder cancer in the UK a year, a study has found.

The chemical, known as trihalomethanes (THMs) is a byproduct of a disinfectant in water, was known to be a cause of the disease.

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Now, researchers have quantified its effect, finding it to be responsible for 1,356 diagnoses a year, or 9.2 per cent of all cases of bladder cancer in the UK.

Across Europe, it causes 6,500 cases, just under 5 per cent of the total for the continent.

Cause of cancer clarified

The average level of THMs in drinking water in all countries was well below the maximum possible limit in the EU

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The study was conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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"Over the past 20 years, major efforts have been made to reduce THM levels. However, the current levels could still lead to a considerable bladder cancer burden, which could be prevented by optimising water treatment, disinfection and distribution practics," said ISGlobal researcher Manolis Kogevinas.

The average level of THMs in drinking water in all countries was well below the maximum possible limit in the EU - but the maximum reported concentrations did exceed the limit in nine countries, including the UK.

It also exceeded the limit in Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

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