Barberton officials say their drinking water is safe to drink, even though routine testing found that it exceeded the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level for disinfection byproducts.
''One of the disinfectant byproducts [trihalomethanes] from the use of chlorine was slightly over the limit,'' said Utilities Director Jim Stender. ''But that was from previous tests. The most recent tests are showing lower levels, which are within EPA standards.''
Barberton residents received notices in their utility bills this week informing them of the higher-than-normal levels of TTHM (trihalomethane).
''We use chorine in the drinking water as a disinfectant to kill germs and all the nasty bugs,'' Stender said. ''Disinfection byproducts are formed when chlorine comes in contact with natural organic matter, such as decaying vegetation and algea present in the water.''
One culprit could be this summer's warm temperatures and the formation of algae and plant life in the city's reservoir. Different disinfectants produce different types or amounts of disinfection byproducts.
The EPA has established regulations for levels disinfection byproducts found in drinking water, including trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate and chlorite. These four byproducts are monitored by the EPA year-round.
Terry Palmer, manager of the Barberton Water Treatment Plant, said other byproducts meet EPA requirements, but for the last year, the average level of TTHM has been .084, compared with the standard level of .080.
He said tests so far this quarter — July, August and September — have shown TTHM levels at .076, below the EPA's limit.
''I have been getting calls all day, not a huge number, but people want to find out what it all means, and I don't blame them,'' he said. ''Basically, you can drink the water and do not have to use an alternative such as bottled water, but if you have health concerns, I would consult your doctor.''
The notice says that people who drink water containing trihalomethanes over many years could suffer problems with their liver, kidneys or central nervous systems. The compounds also could increase the risk of cancer.
Elwood Palmer, the city's service director, said Barberton is in the midst of improvements at the water-treatment plant.
''We are required by the EPA to report this finding, but I assure you, if it was a safety concern and residents were in any danger, we would have done the appropriate thing and notified residents immediately,'' Palmer said. ''The water is definitely safe to drink. The levels are so minute, the water will not harm you.''
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.