UV-Irradiated Water Doesn't Alarm San Francisco Alarmists
So the city's new policy of blasting all the tapwater with ultraviolet radiation will ... be fine! Just fine!
Actually, federal regulations now require cities to employ a second line of disinfection for their water systems. San Francisco already puts chloramine -- that's, essentially, chlorine and ammonia -- in its water. Now it's zapping it with UV radiation as well. UV systems have been used in Europe for years; along with our continental cousins' enjoyment of unpasteurized cheeses and offal meats, it's never been proven to do them a lick of harm.
Still, this is San Francisco. There's always someone worried his brain is going to be melted, right?
When it comes to UV disinfection, apparently not. Public Utilities Commission water quality engineer Eddie So pointed out that UV systems are one of three methods of filtering the federal government insists upon; San Francisco could have chosen ozone or chlorine dioxide as well. Julie Labonte, the PUC's water systems improvement director, says the city went with UV radiation because, unlike ozone or chlorine dioxide, it doesn't add anything to the water, which can lead to disinfection byproducts -- potentially harmful compounds formed by disinfectants and organic materials already in the water.
"This is not a supernew technology," says Labonte. "I am not aware of any research or any complaints raised by any groups."
Well, here's one. While the EPA mandated San Francisco implement such a system, it didn't help pay for it. The price tag: $114 million. That's enough to melt your brain.
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