Have you ever turned on your facet, or the water in your shower, and noticed a distinct smell that resembles a swimming pool? That smell is the chemical chlorine, and it shouldn’t be in your home’s water supply. Let’s talk a little more about this corrosive chemical additive.
What Is Chlorine?
Chlorine is a highly corrosive chemical that can be found in either a liquid, gaseous, or a solid state, and is most commonly used as a disinfectant in water. If you’ve ever been to a swimming pool, and most of us have, you’ll recognize that distinct chemical chlorine smell from the pool water. Most swimming pools use chlorine to disinfect the water and keep any bacteria or algae from growing, but that chemical also has tremendous adverse affects on our health.
Why Is Chlorine So Dangerous?
Chlorine was used in it’s gaseous form as a chemical poison weapon during World War I, and the results were disastrous. Today, chlorine is used in swimming pools, household cleaning supplies, and water treatment plants that end up as our drinking water. At room temperature, chlorine turns into a gas that is easily inhaled which can cause a myriad of health problems, so every time you smell that distinct chlorine smell, know that you’re actually inhaling it which can cause many of the following symptoms:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation/burning
- Sore throat
If the thought of inhaling this toxic chemical isn’t scary enough, then the thought of drinking it should be terrifying. Unfortunately that’s exactly what millions of people do on a daily basis without even realizing it. Since chlorine is one of the most common water treatment chemicals for drinking water, we literally ingest and inhale this highly toxic and corrosive chemical every time we drink a glass of water, take a shower, or wash our hands.
Sure, chlorine is usually detected in small amounts by the time it hits our drinking water, but think about how many times a day we have a glass of water, wash our hands, take a shower, rinse our food, wash dishes, do laundry, and use household cleaning supplies. We are exposed to chlorine multiple times a day without realizing it, and that buildup of chlorine in our bodies can have extremely hazardous effects on our health. Some of the ailments that ingesting chlorine have been linked to are:
- Skin irritation, and dry skin
- Psoriasis, dandruff, and dry scalp
- Hair loss from follicle damage
- Eye, sinus, and throat irritation
- Tiredness, fatigue, dizziness, and weakness
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Increased risk for bladder and rectal cancer
- Increased risk for heart disease
The list goes on. The U.S. Council of Environmental Quality states that:
Cancer rates for people on chlorinated water systems is 93% higher than for those on non-chlorinated water systems…
You can read more on the corrosive and dangerous aspects of chlorine from the Centers for Disease Control’s website.
If Chlorine Is So Dangerous, Why Doesn’t The Government Ban It?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of money to be made by the chemical companies by keeping chlorine on the market. Even though the last 30 years of research have shown the adverse health effects from chlorine and it’s byproducts, organizations like the Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Chlorine Institute have a very well-funded agenda to keep pumping chlorine into our water supply.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found many chemicals in our water supply to be dangerous to human health, they have been challenged in courts by several chemical manufacturing organizations who lobby to keep the chemical cocktails flowing regardless of the adverse health effects.
Chlorine is banned in Europe due to the dangers of the chemical, so much so that they won’t even accept or import any food from the United States that has been washed/treated with chlorinated water. It seems like the United States has a long way to go before the health of it’s citizens is put first before profit.
How To Minimize Your Exposure To Chlorine
Since we can’t afford to wait around for the government to ban chlorine from our water supply, we’ll have to take measures into our own hands. Luckily there are many great companies out there who believe in having a pure and clean water supply, which makes minimizing our exposure to chlorine that much easier.
If you plan on swimming in public pools, try to minimize your overall exposure to the water, or completely avoid pools if possible. Check with your city as there are some public pools who treat their water with salt or UV filters, which is a great alternative to chlorine treatment.
Showering and bathing
We can’t avoid staying clean, but there are ways to minimize your exposure to chlorine in your shower by getting a high quality chlorine filter. The one I currently use at home is the Sprite Universal Shower Filter which I like because it helps contain the chlorine vapors along with the chlorine in the water.
Vitamin C is also one of the best ways to neutralize chlorine and chloramines in the water, and there are a few shower filters that use it like the UBS Vita Fresh Shower Filter. I’ve actually used both the vitamin C filter and the Sprite filter together which works as a great chlorine filtration system for the shower. Unfortunately I haven’t found any effective filter for the bathtub, so I try to limit my exposure to bathwater and stick to showers as much as possible.
Another way you’re going to want to minimize your chlorine exposure is through your drinking water. Since water treatment plants use chlorine to treat and disinfect, we’re going to be exposed to it every time we drink a glass of water. Get a good water filter for your refrigerator if you have an ice machine or water spout in the door. You can also get an under-the-sink water filter if you get your drinking water straight from the tap. This will help reduce the chlorine and other contaminants left behind in your water supply.
If you want a truly chlorine and contaminant free water supply, reverse osmosis is the only filtration process that will remove those contaminants for the purest drinking water. You can start with an RO system for under-the-sink like this one from APEC, but to truly ensure your family has the safest water possible, whether showering or drinking, investing in a whole house reverse osmosis system is your absolute best bet. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but it will ensure that your entire water supply is clean, pure, and most importantly, safe.
- Chlorine is a dangerous and corrosive chemical that has been linked to many adverse health problems including an increased risk of cancer.
- Chlorine can easily be inhaled in vapor form, and is also found in our drinking water.
- Minimizing exposure to chlorinated pools by avoiding them completely, or finding naturally treated pools is your best option.
- Using a shower filter designed for chlorine filtration will help reduce exposure to the chemical. Combine with a vitamin C filter for maximum filtration.
- Take a daily vitamin C supplement to boost your body’s immune system and help chelate chlorine from your body.
- Invest in an whole house reverse osmosis water filtration system to ensure the purest, cleanest, and most containment free water possible.
We may not be able to eradicate chlorine from our daily lives completely until the government steps in to ban it from being used, but we can take control and minimize our exposure to it.
Have you worried about chlorine exposure in your life? How do you avoid it? Share your story below!