Bathing in chlorinated water may be worse for you than drinking it because it bypasses your liver, say scientists.
Chlorine is the most widely used disinfectant in public water systems in the United States and around the world. It is also a toxic gas that has been used as a chemical weapon because it effectively attacks all living cells.
Chlorine not only kills the bad bacteria in water, it also kills the good bacteria in our bodies and on our skin.
When you drink chlorinated water it destroys your beneficial intestinal flora, or gut bacteria. A wave of recent studies are just beginning to understand how vital gut flora is to your physical and mental health. These revelations have spawned a huge movement of eating fermented vegetables and taking probiotic supplements to help rebuild a healthy gut.
Results of chlorine exposure to the skin are less discussed. Chlorine has been shown to diminish vitamin E, vitamin C and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the skin potentially resulting in eye and skin irritations. Some swimmers use vitamin C & E skin spray to combat rashes. But rashes appear to be the least of the health concerns stemming from topical exposure to chlorine.
A 2009 Belgian study published in Pediatrics found that teens were eight times the risk of developing asthma or allergies if they spent more than 1,000 hours swimming in chlorinated pools compared to kids who usually swam in pools using a copper-silver disinfecting method. The researchers also found that the risks more than doubled for hay fever and other allergies with significant exposure to chlorinated pools.
Females who are regular swimmers in chlorinated pools experience higher levels of vaginal infections. Chlorine is shown to disrupt healthy pH levels as well as kill beneficial vaginal flora.
Bathing or swimming in chlorinated water may even cause cancer.
Spanish researchers at the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona found that people who bathe in chlorinated water have a significantly higher chance of getting bladder cancer than those with filtered or feral water.
A report of the cancer study summarizes:
Researchers found that those living in areas with high-chlorine content water, who bathed in it regularly, were 83 per cent more likely to get a tumour than those in low-chlorine areas.
Those who drank high-chlorine tap water were 35 per cent more likely to get bladder cancer.
Regular swimming in pools increased the risk by 57 per cent.
Absorbing chlorine through the skin is thought to be more dangerous because it bypasses the liver, which filters out many harmful chemicals when water is swallowed.
The Scientific American reports on studies linking chlorine to rectal and breast cancer:
The link between chlorine and bladder and rectal cancers has long been known, but only recently have researchers found a link between common chlorine disinfectant and breast cancer, which affects one out of every eight American women. A recent study conducted in Hartford, Connecticut found that women with breast cancer have 50-60 percent higher levels of organochlorines (chlorine by-products) in their breast tissue than cancer-free women.
Showering or bathing in chlorinated water may be especially bad because hot water opens pores in your skin while steamy water also accelerates the off-gassing (evaporation) of chlorine into the air to be inhaled. According to some studies, you may be inhaling 50% more chlorine during a hot shower than while swimming in a cold pool.
If you already filter chlorine out of your drinking water, you may want to start filtering it in your shower as well.
There are several affordable shower filter options to reduce chlorine from your shower. Although common carbon filters do an okay job at filtering cold drinking water, they’re less effective at filtering chlorine from high-volume shower water.
Carbon filters rely on adsorption which can only handle low volume. That’s why your kitchen water filter takes so long to strain into the pitcher. Additionally, using hot water in carbon filters can lead to the offloading of the captured contaminants right back into your water.
This happens because as the temperature rises the carbon’s saturation point decreases to where it can no longer hold the contaminates. It work may for a few weeks, then dump the contaminates back into your shower when it gets hot.
A cutting-edge filtration technology called Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) uses purification metals (like the pool naturally disinfected by copper and silver from the study above) with superior results.
“KDF uses a copper-zinc alloy mesh filter as a catalyst to break apart the toxic chlorine molecule into safe chloride ions that easily dissolve in the water and are safely washed away without interacting with your body’s cells,” explains Nathan Spaccarelli who’s the founder of QwenchPure Shower Filters.
“This method permits higher pressure filtered showers and it remains effective for longer than carbon filters.”