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Does drinking water cause brain disease?


Might drinking water cause neurological disease? It can’t be said with any certainty yet, but scientists now report a link between drinking water disinfection byproducts and a cellular mechanism connected to neurological disease like Alzheimer’s.

“I’m not implying that drinking disinfected water will give you Alzheimer’s,” said Michael Plewa, lead scientist and professor of genetics in the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences. “Certainly the disinfection of drinking water was one f the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. But the adverse effects of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are unintentionally formed during this process are causing concerns as researchers unveil their toxicity.”

While more than 600 DBPs have been identified, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates only 11. Little biological information is available on the majority of these possible toxins.

Plewa’s laboratory investigated the cellular target or mechanism that leads to toxicity called Haloacetic acids (HAAs). “The EPA has regulated HAAs for nearly 15 years. However, we did not know how they caused toxicity before this study,” he said. “Now that we’ve uncovered the mechanism, we can make sense of past data that can lead to new studies relating to adverse pregnancy outcomes, different types of cancer, and neurological dysfunction.”

HAAs cause DNA damage in cells by inhibiting GAPDH. A growing body of research indicates GAPDH is associated with the onset of neurological disorders.

He hopes new methods of disinfection will be created. “It’s fairly simple,” Plewa explained, “to increase the health benefits of disinfected water, we must reduce the most toxic DBPs. If we understand their biological mechanism, we can come up with more rational ways to disinfect drinking water without generating toxic DBPs.”

Source: Environmental Science & Technology, ScienceDaily

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