“The spike in salty bromides in Western Pennsylvania's rivers and creeks has already put some public water suppliers into violation of federal safe drinking water standards,” Hopey writes. “Others, like the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, haven't exceeded those limits but have been pushed up against them. Some have had to change the way they treat water.”
The concern with bromide in the water supply comes when it is treated. “Bromide facilitates formation of brominated trihalomethanes, also known as THMs, when it is exposed to disinfectant processes in water treatment plants,” writes Hopey. Some studies suggest links between THMs and various cancers and birth defects.
Stanley States, water quality manager for the Pittsburgh system, told Hopey the elevated bromide levels in the river could be coming from municipal sewage-treatment plants and private brine-treatment plants handling drilling wastewater. (Read more)