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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 18, 2005

UI Reports Drinking Water Contaminant Levels Fail Standards

The University of Iowa water plant reported this week that water from the plant violated a drinking water standard for the presence of the chemicals known as trihalomethanes. Tests conducted during the first quarter of 2005 showed that average levels of the chemicals exceeded the state drinking water standard. Steps taken at the plant have subsequently reduced the levels of the chemicals to below the allowable limit. The higher average levels are not considered to be an immediate health risk, says Ken Lloyd, UI associate utilities director. The plant today sent an e-mail to all University students, staff and faculty notifying them of the contamination.

Trihalomethanes, or THMs, are a byproduct of the disinfection process used to protect water from pathogenic organisms. Levels increase when water flow is reduced, and treated water stands in pipes for longer periods of time. The UI plant has reduced the time water stays in pipes, flushed the system more often and carried out more tests. The acceptable average level of THM is 0.080 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The average level in the water during the year ending in the first quarter of 2005 was 0.081 mg/L.

While there is no immediate risk in this instance and the levels observed are relatively low, some research suggests that drinking water containing high levels of trihalomethanes over many years may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems, and may increase the risk of cancer.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One,

Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Charles S. Drum, 319-384-0048, charles-drum@uiowa.edu; Program: Ken Lloyd, UI Facilities Management, 319-335-5167, kenneth-lloyd@uiowa.edu