Chemicals in Steelton water linked to cancer risk

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STEELTON, Pa. -- A recent report conducted by the Steelton Water Authority indicates high levels of a chemical which, if consumed in excess amounts over a long period of time, could lead to cancer.

The report, which says Steelton is in violation of safe drinking water standards, is available to read on the borough's website.

Tests conducted over the past year show the borough's water had more contaminants called Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) than are safely allowed. The tests were performed in four quarters of the past year, and though most recent tests were below maximum contaminate levels for TTHMs, tests from the three previous quarters all showed levels above the safety standard of 0.080 mg/L.

Last summer, Steelton's two water plants showed levels at .128 and .144, which is nearly twice the safety threshold.

"I can guarantee you, every single week, we’re sending reports to (the Department of Environmental Protection) to improve the quality of the water," says borough manager, Doug Brown.

Both Brown and the DEP say the test results are not cause for concern. However, exposure to high doses of Trihalomethanes over a sustained period of time could lead to cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"If you drink water for 70 years with a .10 amount (of TTHMs) in the water, two liters a day, there’s a very slight increased risk for cancer," Brown says.

There is no need to use bottled water, Brown added, saying the report is a non-emergency violation.

This is Steelton's third water violation. It was fined $55,200 in 2014 by the Department of Environmental Protection after the agency discovered "significant violations."

Currently, Steelton is working on acquiring a $2.1 million chlorine contact tank which would help eliminate harmful chemicals in the water. The borough began looking into the tank in October, but they are still trying to secure permits and funds, Brown says. He adds the project may not be completed until next year.

"I don’t think there's any need to sound the alarm," Brown said. "We’re work diligently on cutting back on Trihalomethanes. We’re investing a lot of money time, and manpower to address the issue."