elaine / Nov 01

HAA5 in Drinking Water: Everything you need to know

elaine / Nov 01

What is HAA5?

HAA5 refers to the 5 compounds of haloacetic acids (HAA) which are types of disinfection byproducts. The five haloacetic acids in HAA5 are: bromochloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, and trichloroacetic acid. 

What are disinfection byproducts (DBPs)? 

Although chlorine (commonly used widely all over the world) or chloramine (used in the UK and parts of Canada) are necessary additives in tap water systems to prevent bacteria and bio-contamination, they tend to form byproducts in the water that have harmful health effects. The chlorine reacts with organic materials in water to form what’s called “disinfection byproducts” (DBPs).

DBPs become a major concern, especially when the source of the water is surface water such as rivers, lakes, and streams. The organic materials from these sources coupled with the chlorine forms harmful DBPs. 

Why are HAA5 in tap water?

Chlorine or chloramine are commonly used in water treatment to prevent bio-contamination in tap water from the water source to the tap. This helps to prevent waterborne diseases due to their disinfection qualities. On their own, they’re not harmful to the body, but coupled with any organic material, they form HAA5 – which are harmful to your health. 

What are the health effects of HAA5?

Prolonged HAA exposure is linked to injury to the liver, kidney, eyes, nerves and the reproductive system, and rectal, bladder, and colon cancers. HAAs are also harmful to fetal growth and development.

HAA5 is absorbed as soon as it is ingested. HAA5 can be absorbed into the skin as well and do not vaporize into the air at bath temperature.

The EPA considers dichloroacetic acid and trichloroacetic acid to be potential human carcinogens. In animal studies, these HAAs increased the incidence of liver cancer, and in human studies, exposure to DBPs increased the incidence of bladder cancer. 

There were mixed results from human studies of developmental effects from DBP (including HAA5) exposure. Some studies continue to find associations between DBP concentrations and hindered growth development in newborns. 

What is the maximum concentration of HAA5?

In 1998, the EPA suggested a legal limit or maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 60ppb for HAA5 that still stands today. This was based on the necessity of disinfection levels and cost of treatment, but doesn’t fully protect against the risk of cancer and harm to fetal development due to the HAAs

Contrary to the EPA’s guidelines from the 90s, the EWG Health Guideline for HAA5 is set at 0.1ppb after a peer reviewed study was conducted. This MCL, which is based on a one-in-a-million lifetime cancer risk, does protect against cancer. 

Are HAA5 in bottled water?

Yes. Because most bottled water is tap water, or otherwise some natural source like mountain spring water, they tend to be treated in a similar way to prevent bio-contamination which can cause HAA5 to appear. The FDA regulates bottled water since it is categorized as a food and it allows 60 ppb of HAA5 in bottled water, adopting the EPA’s HAA5 MCL. As we know now, this level does not protect against the risk of cancer or harm to fetal development. 

How to remove HAA5 from drinking water?

Certain water filtration systems will remove HAA5 from drinking water, and it’s important to have a point-of-use filtration system because many contaminants can rise throughout the transport of the tap water from its source to your tap such as HAA5 and lead. The LARQ Pitcher PureVis™ uses Nano Zero technology to remove HAA5, lead, chlorine, mercury, PFAS, and more from tap water. It also has PureVis™ technology which uses UV-C LED to eradicate bacteria and viruses such as E.coli within the pitcher. This technology helps maintain the cleanliness of the water and the pitcher between washes. 

If you’re looking for an HAA5 water filter, the one to get is the Advanced Filter. We’d recommend checking the EWG’s water database and inputting your zip code to find out what contaminants you should be filtering out. Water filters are not created equal and some are missing protection against serious contaminants such as lead, mercury, PFAS, TTHM (chloroform) and more. Luckily, the LARQ water filter pitcher provides protection against these contaminants and more. 

Does boiling water remove HAA5?

Boiling water does not remove HAA5. Boiling can have an adverse effect, actually—increasing the concentration of HAA5. In fact, HAA5 are potential hazards especially from water used in cooking or drinking. 

How well does LARQ remove HAA5 from tap water?

Our innovative plant-based filters are independently tested to NSF/ANSI 42,53, & 401 standards to be effective against a wide range of pollutants. The LARQ Pitcher PureVis™ with Advanced Filter removes >99.7% of HAA5 from tap water.