The Dangers of Chlorine in Nebraska Water
While most folks recognize the perils of drinking contaminated water, most consumers are unaware that they are actually drinking water with chemicals every day! Agents such as chlorine, which are designed to kill bacteria and make your water safe from microbiological contaminants, are not only a health risk in your drinking water, but can also be absorbed through your skin after exposure when bathing. While showering, the warmth of the water encourages the pores to expand, thus increasing the rate of absorption of this known carcinogen. In fact, since water has a higher boiling point than chlorine, this can mean that the steam from your shower could contain up to twenty times more chlorine than your actual tap water. To be clear, nobody is saying you will get cancer from taking a hot shower, but chlorine is a toxic chemical, plain and simple, and frequent, continued, prolonged exposure to it is not a good thing.
Is Chlorine Really All that Dangerous to Human Health?
The inhalation of chlorine vapors has long been considered to be a potential cause of asthma and bronchitis. Chlorine vapors can be an irritant to the bronchial tissues of the lungs. Unlike the ingestion of chlorine via drinking, which is filtered by the kidneys and liver, inhalation allows these chemicals to directly enter the bloodstream. In addition to irritation, chlorine is also considered to be one of the leading causes of hair loss.
A Norwegian study linked chlorine exposure to an increase risk of birth defects. Out of 141,000 births, over a period of three years, the research established that there was a higher rate of incidences of spina bifida in chlorinated water areas. Chlorine has also been scientifically linked to a greater risk of developing cancer. According to the American Journal of Public Health, chlorine is associated with an increased risk of certain forms of the disease and two thirds of harmful exposure to chlorine is from the inhalation of shower steam. This has led numerous experts to recommend that chlorine should be excluded from human contact because of its abundant harmful effects.
What are Chloramines?
Chloramines are in point of fact becoming more common in our water supplies. Over 22% of the municipal water treatment facilities in the US use chloramines instead of chlorine to disinfect the water supply. However, chloramines are actually a compound containing both chlorine and ammonia. The mixing of these two chemicals can actually create a toxic gas which irritates mucous membranes and skin. However, unlike chlorine, chloramines will not dissipate from standing water… which is exactly why it is used, to maintain its disinfectant properties. This means that when you are showering, you could potentially be releasing chlorine and chloramines into the air you breathe in your home, causing irritation to the eyes, throat and lungs. This can be particularly detrimental to sufferers of respiratory conditions, such as COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), cystic fibrosis or asthma.
Knowing the Dangers and Where to get information:
Although many homeowners in Nebraska and Iowa where we treat water have taken precautionary steps, from installing R.O. systems in the kitchen to whole home carbon filters to remove chlorine from all the water coming into their houses, this may not be effective against chloramines. Contact a WQA certified water treatment professional for assistance or visit the www.WQA.org and look for a specialist in your geographic region.
About The Author, Terry Reeh, Partner EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:
With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space , Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. In addition to running the day-to-day operations of EcoWater Systems of Nebraska, one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery enterprises in the state, Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.