BMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6956.750 (Published 17 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:750

Research from Finland showing a small increase in the risk of bladder and kidney cancers in communities using chlorinated surface water (American Journal of Public Health 1994;84:1223-8) is the latest instalment in a campaign urging tighter controls over the use of chloride. The problem with water is the byproducts of chlorination, some of which have been shown to be mutagens. Concern is also rising about the effects on health of industrial processes that use chemicals containing chloride and especially dioxins.

Another authoritative journal, “Science” (1994;267:1155), takes the opposite view, warning in an editorial that the United States Environmental Protection Agency is being “influenced by Greenpeace and its allies” and that banning the production of chlorine and its compounds - as some campaigners suggest should be done - would have damaging effects both on health and on the economy. The editorial points out that the smoke of burning wood contains more than 100 organochlorine compounds and that forest fires are probably the main source of dioxins.

Adults with the clinical triad of gait disturbances, mental deterioration, and urinary incontinence may be suffering from normal pressure hydrocephalus, but by …

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