First published today at RGQ:

There are unseen and possibly unforeseeable consequences to our actions. We do things and find out later that our best intentions have led to some other disastrous results.

In ancient times, disease could spread rapidly. Even today, in remote areas without sanitation means, diseases are spread via contaminated water. One of the reasons we are so disease-free is because of our sanitized water supply.

However, there may be a problem with our disinfected water. There are disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that are unintentionally formed during the process of cleaning the water. In fact, over 600 DBPs have so far been discovered. Some of these are toxic and 11 are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Science Daily reported on Michael Plewa from the University of Illinois. He and his team have found a cellular link to a range of neurological issues and these DBPs.

He is not claiming that drinking water will cause Alzheimer’s, wreak havoc with pregnancies, or cause cancer. There are some neurological problems that do seem to be associated with the processes we currently use to clean water.

It seems one of the problem byproducts is haloacetic acids (HAAs). The EPA has regulated HAAs for 15 years. Until this study, it was unknown exactly how the toxic substances worked.

It was thought HAAs directly damaged DNA but that was proven wrong. So the next step was to look to neuroscience. Plewa’s graduate student, Justin Pals, found something astounding.

Pals found iodoacetic acid, a particular HAA, reduced the amount of nutrients and oxygen in neurons by inhibiting glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH).

Apparently when studying the amount of GAPDH available to neurons, that number correlated with a number of different health markers.

“All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place in an instant,” Plewa said. “We had discovered our cellular target – GAPDH. Never before had this type of research been done with this level of precision and associated with a large body of adverse biological impacts.”

This means that HAAs are interfering with the production of ATP and this causes oxidative stress. This stress leads to damaged DNA. So the HAAs aren’t directly harming DNA, but instead they inhibit GAPDH and that leads to the oxidative stress which does cause disrupted DNA.

As an editorial note: the article mentions possible deleterious effects during pregnancy and the risk of Alzheimer’s. There is no mention of autism in the article. None! Please note this is my speculation.

However when I was a kid, there were just a very few cases of autism. Perhaps our diagnosis is better or our definition has broadened. However the number of cases is ballooning so maybe there is something else. Perhaps there is some connection between our water supply, the toxic substances in it, and our increased incidence of neurological problems.

Do you use unfiltered tap water? (By the way, there was nothing in the article to lead me to believe that filtering would help remove HAAs.) Do you know how your water is treated? Have you ever heard of these substances before?

Do you drink bottled water? Do you know it is treated prior to bottling and if there is any difference in the amount or types of toxins in it? Do you know what type of plastic it is put into and if that is safe?