It makes intuitive sense that drinking chlorinated water can create imbalances in your intestinal flora. We know that chlorine will kill many of the good bacteria and microbes that live symbiotically with us in our gut. These good bacteria help us digest our food, keeping us serene and healthy. But most of us fail to take this thought to it’s logical end. I know I did.
You see, I thought that if I just drank filtered water, I’d have my bases covered. It never even occurred to me that the chlorine in my shower and bath water could be just as damaging, if not more so. That’s because your skin is your largest organ, and it’s naturally gifted with the ability to absorb both nutrients and toxins.
Chlorine from drinking water can enter your body in several ways, including ingestion. You also inhale chloroform, a byproduct of chlorine, when you take a hot shower or bath. According to an article from Science News, researchers found increases in chloroform in study participants’ lungs of about 2.7ppb after a 10-minute shower. Warm water also further opens pores, so the combination of what your skin absorbs and your lungs inhale during a 10-minute shower is greater than the amount you would ingest drinking eight glasses of water from the same tap. In fact, studies at the University of Pittsburgh found less chemical exposure from ingesting chlorinated water than from showering or washing clothes in it. The study found that, on average, absorption through the skin was responsible for 64 percent of waterborne contaminants that enter the human body.
So, not only is it dangerous to drink chlorinated water, but it’s even more dangerous to shower or bathe in it. Even the EPA’s own scientists agree:
There is a lot of well founded concern about chlorine. When chlorine is added to our water, it combines with other natural compounds to form Trihalomethanes (chlorination byproducts), or THMs. These chlorine byproducts trigger the production of free radicals in the body, causing cell damage, and are highly carcinogenic. “Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States“. The Environmental Defense Fund
Simply stated chlorine is a pesticide, as defined by the U.S. EPA, who’s sole purpose is to kill living organisms. When we consume water containing chlorine, it kills some part of us, destroying cells and tissue inside our body. Dr. Robert Carlson, a highly respected University of Minnesota researcher who’s work is sponsored by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, sums it up by claiming , “the chlorine problem is similar to that of air pollution”, and adds that “chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times!”
Breast cancer, which now effects one in every eight women in North America, has recently been linked to the accumulation of chlorine compounds in the breast tissue. A study carried out in Hartford Connecticut, the first of it’s kind in North America, found that, “women with breast cancer have 50% to 60% higher levels of organochlorines (chlorination byproducts) in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer.”
One of the most shocking components to all of these studies is that up to 2/3s of our harmful exposure to chlorine is due to inhalation of steam and skin absorption while showering. A warm shower opens up the pores of the skin and allows for accelerated absorption of chlorine and other chemicals in water. The steam we inhale while showering can contain up to 50 times the level of chemicals than tap water due to the fact that chlorine and most other contaminants vaporize much faster and at a lower temperature than water. Inhalation is a much more harmful means of exposure since the chlorine gas (chloroform) we inhale goes directly into our blood stream. When we drink contaminated water the toxins are partially filtered out by our kidneys and digestive system. Chlorine vapors are known to be a strong irritant to the sensitive tissue and bronchial passages inside our lungs, it was used as a chemical weapon in World War II. The inhalation of chlorine is a suspected cause of asthma and bronchitis, especially in children… which has increased 300% in the last two decades. “Showering is suspected as the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home because of chlorine in the water.” Dr Lance Wallace, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.