[Authors: Cristina Villanueva, Project Coordinator, and Paula Redondo, Research Technician of the AiguaBCN Project]
Drinking water may contain emerging pollutants that are not removed by the usual treatment or that are generated during treatment processes. Prolonged exposure to low concentrations of this cocktail of pollutants has been associated with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, as well as aging.
Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are undesired side products resulting from the disinfection of drinking water. Although they consist of hundreds of chemicals, there are a few that are particularly abundant in drinking water, such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), chlorate and chlorite. Apart from DBPs, the quality of our drinking water is threatened by the growing use of a wide range of man-made chemicals which are present in personal care products and consumer products and which can end up in the water cycle. These include perfluorinated substances (PFASs), bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol (NP).
The AiguaBCN project will build a map with the concentrations of emerging contaminants in Barcelona's drinking water and will study their effects on our health.
The European Drinking Water Directive sets the criteria for the quality of water intended for human consumption in Europe, but the presence of these chemicals in drinking water has not yet been subject of regulation. The revised European Drinking Water directive will now include them for routine monitoring because of their possible presence in drinking water and their health relevance.
Although the population is exposed to a variety of chemicals in drinking water that have been shown to be related to a range of NCDs, the magnitude of this exposure is unknown. Therefore, in the AiguaBCN project we will:
- Measure these emerging contaminants in the drinking water of the city of Barcelona and create a map of concentrations. For this, we will sample drinking water at 42 households (one per postal code) to cover the geography of Barcelona.
- Quantify the contribution of drinking water on the internal dose of PFASs and HAAs by collecting urine samples from volunteers living in the 42 households where drinking water was sampled.
- Assess the neurotoxicity of drinking water using in vitro assays, and quantify the contribution of PFASs, BPA, NP, HAAs, chlorate and chlorite to the in vitro neurotoxicity of drinking water samples.
This project is funded by the Barcelona City Council and “la Caixa” Foundation (Pla de Ciència de Barcelona), and ISGlobal coordinate the project with the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC) and the Rovira i Virgili University. Additional collaborations include the Catalan Institute of Water Research (ICRA) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UZZ), Germany.
If you would like to participate in the AiguaBCN project as volunteer:
- We will ask you to answer a short questionnaire to assess whether you are eligible for the study (for example, to find out the type of water you usually drink).
- We will plan a date to go to your house to collect tap water and urine samples to measure emerging contaminants, and to answer a questionnaire.
The confidentiality of your data will be guaranteed at all times.
You can find more info at https://www.isglobal.org/-/aiguabcn or you can contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org.