Antioxidants could protect from toxins in water, study says

Antioxidants such as vitamin C could help reduce harmful effects of hexavalent chromium, a contaminant commonly found in drinking water, according to a new study by researchers at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

The study looked at human cells to find out whether antioxidants might prevent cell toxicity. The researchers exposed two types of human cells to various concentrations of hexavalent chromium and observed the toxic effects. Though they found toxic effects for both cell types at 200 parts per billion (ppb) or higher concentrations of hexavalent chromium, the toxicity could be blocked by vitamin C at 10 parts per million (ppm) or the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate at 15 ppm. Epigallocatechin gallate is the primary antioxidant found in green tea.

In other experiments, the researchers saw DNA mutations in bacteria exposed to 20 ppb or more of hexavalent chromium. However, these mutations didn't occur when the bacteria were also treated with 20 ppm of vitamin C.

The new findings reveal that an oxidative mechanism is likely responsible for the contaminant's toxicity, which could be prevented by treating the water with antioxidants. These results could help inform water quality monitoring and regulation and could lead to treatment that reduces health risks from exposure to hexavalent chromium.

The findings are being presented this week at the  American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida. Information on the study’s publication was not available at press time, but will be added as soon as it is available.