Chlorine has been used to disinfect water for consumption to eliminate waterborne disease for decades. It is extremely effective at killing pathogens and diseases. It is widely used because it’s inexpensive. Chlorine easily maintains a residual level in the water. Despite its effectiveness and inexpensive ability to disinfect the water supply, chlorination has some problems of its own.
Chlorine produces harmful byproducts
When chlorine is used in water treatment, it combines with organic matter in the water to forming byproduct compounds called Trihalomethanes (THMs). These compounds are toxic when consumed, inhaled, or applied to the skin. Research conducted on the health effects of chlorinated drinking water has demonstrated a variety of toxicity issues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that there is evidence to support a potential association between long term exposure to high levels of THMs and bladder cancer as well as suggestions of an association with colon and rectal cancers. In addition, the Environmental Research Foundation cites several studies linking moderate to heavy consumption of chlorinated tap water by pregnant women with higher miscarriage and birth defect rates. Water disinfection is extremely important to rid of the bacteria and viruses in the water but there are other disinfection methods that do not produce these toxic byproducts.
Our exposure to chlorine
The most obvious problem with chlorine in the water is that it leaves an unpleasant taste and smell behind. Chlorine can alter the taste of water, coffee, tea and other beverages. Chlorine is ingested from drinking water and also inhaled in showers. It can even make hair and skin feel dry after showering. The problem not only lies within drinking water, but also in bathing water. Showering and bathing in chlorinated water may expose us to even more chlorine than drinking the byproducts in the chlorinated water. While showering, chlorine is not only absorbed through skin but also vaporized in the shower and inhaled into the lungs. This means the majority of our daily chlorine exposure comes from showering. Chlorine poses a problem throughout all of our water faucets and should be removed from the entire water source.