Public water disinfection is among greatest health breakthroughs of the past century. Since scientists learned that adding the chemical to raw water can neutralize nearly all of the harmful organic mater it contains, getting clean, safe water to the masses has become unbelievably easier.
It’s only in recent decades, however, that scientists have begun to look critically at exactly what chemistry is going on when chlorine is added to water. And what they’ve found isn’t exactly reassuring: there are actually a number of dangers chlorine can pose to our health, and scientists are continuing to learn just how hazardous these risks can be. The list below will go over some of the negative health effects of this ubiquitous chemical.
Although chlorine has proven to be a very effective means of disinfecting contaminated water, it doesn’t remove 100% of pathogens. There have been several documented cases of dangerous bacteria such as e-coli showing up in tap water that has been treated by chlorine. Exposure to bacteria such as this can induce some serious food poisoning symptoms.
Disinfection By-Products (DBPs)
While chlorine itself doesn’t pose any notable health risks, it creates what are known as disinfection by-products, or DPBs, when it comes into contact with organic material such as harmful pathogens.
Recently, these DPBs have been shown to have all kinds of negative health effects, from heart disease to kidney and liver damage to even increased cancer risk. This is very unsettling considering every water treatment plant in the U.S. uses chlorine as the disinfectant.
Inhalation and Skin Absorption
These harmful DPBs are very difficult to avoid, as they are not only absorbed through drinking, but also through skin contact and inhalation. They absorb very quickly into the skin and enter the bloodstream directly from there.
This makes it extremely difficult to avoid the risks of chlorinated water, as its bi-products come in contact with your skin every time you so much as wash your hands.
The harmful effects of chlorine’s DPBs don’t stop at health risks. They’re responsible for the excessive drying of the hair and skin that many people struggle with, and showering in chlorinated water can result in dry, wrinkling skin and brittle hair.
So while chlorine has been a valuable part of making clean water accessible to everyone, perhaps it’s time for us to explore alternative options for disinfecting water. A few cities have begun experimenting with methods such as Ozonation but, for the time being, methods like this are too expensive to be embraced across the nation.
Until chlorine is phased out, you can still protect your own home from its harmful by-products using one of the Toxin Shield© cartridges we sell on our site. They’re built to remove all kinds of potentially harmful chemicals found in tap water, and are very low maintenance. Give us a call if you’re interested.