3 Harmful Effects of Haloacetic Acids in Drinking Water

Updated September 21st, 2023

Think about a glass of ordinary tap water – cool and refreshing. It looks so pure and healthy, but the truth is: it probably contains a high level of haloacetic acids and other harmful contaminants.

By definition, haloacetic acids (haa) are “chemical compounds that contain chlorine and bromine.” They are formed when the chlorine used to treat drinking water reacts with naturally occurring organic matter in water.

Those disinfectant byproducts can end up in the clean water you drink every day and can be very toxic to your health. In fact, long-term exposure to high levels of haloacetic acids has been linked to many complications such as cancer, birth defects, and skin irritations.

But before we go into more details, it’s important to note that the recommended limit for Haloacetic acids in the United States is 0.060 mg/L, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Side effects of haloacetic acids in drinking water

1.  Increased risk of getting cancer

“Some people who drink water containing Haloacetic acids in excess of the MCL [Maximum Contamination Level] over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer,” the EPA reports. However, data from research studies indicate that Haloacetic is carcinogenic in animals – not humans. Experiments on laboratory mice showed an increase in the development of liver tumors and liver cancer. But even so, it’s not a good idea to take chances with your health.

2.  Increased risk of birth defects

Registered dietitian and health coach Jill Corleone states that “Exposure to high levels of Haloacetic acid also may increase the risk of birth defects.” As with cancer, there hasn’t been any study on humans, but “Fetal rats exposed to high doses of Haloacetic acid in their mother’s diets had poor fetal growth and a higher incidence of malformation of the heart and kidneys.”

3.  Severe irritation to the skin

Long- or short-term exposure to high levels of trichloroacetic acid (a type of Haloacetic acid) can cause “loss of skin, inflammation, and degeneration of the structural protein collagen,” Corleone reports. “In some cases, the skin damage can last from two to 15 weeks.”

How to Remove Haloacetic Acids from Your Drinking Water

Municipal water often contains harmful contaminants and disinfection byproducts, but ultimately, you can control what ends up in your drinking water. The SpringWell Whole House Water Filter System is ideal in removing these negative byproducts. Our system uses the highest quality catalytic coconut shell carbon and nsf cerfitied kdf media to target and remove harmful contaminants like chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, haloacetic acids and more.

whole house water filter system
SpringWell’s Whole House Water Filter + Sediment Filter

We offer high-tech whole house water filtration systems that target and remove almost all the contaminants and disinfection byproducts we find in our water sources today.

Our whole house filters connect to your home’s service line and clean all the water entering your household. That way, the water you drink, cook with, and use to shower will be clean and healthy for you and your family.

Learn more about the benefits of water filtration with SpringWell’s water systems.


Protecting yourself and your family against all forms of threat is always a top priority. This should be no different when it comes to contaminants, disinfection byproducts like haloacetic acids, viruses and bacteria in your drinking water. As clean and healthy as your water may look, you can’t be certain that every glass of water you drink is safe. Our mission is to provide every family with clean refreshing contaminate-free water while providing the highest quality customer service experience.

Contact us to discuss your water filtration needs or if you have any questions.