Chlorine in Drinking Water...Good or Bad?
The use of chlorine to disinfect water for human consumption is a practise which started in the US Military in the early 1900's. It took the form of using compressed liquefied chlorine gas, or the addition of calcium hypochlorite to water. It has become the one of the most effective, cheapest and widely used methods of providing safe drinkable water.
Chlorination of water has been a major step in preventing the spread of water borne disease, by eliminating harmful bacteria in water and making it safe for human consumption. Without it, getting safe drinkable water in your home would be far more costly. Other methods of disinfecting water include UV treatment, Ozonation and Chloramine (which is the addition of ammonia). These are either expensive or impractical for the needs of our modern cities and towns.
So what is Chlorine? Wikipedia defines chlorine as:"Chlorine (pronounced /ˈklɔərin/, from the Greek word 'χλωρóς' (khlôros, meaning 'pale green'), is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is a halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17 (formerly VII, VIIa, or VIIb). As the chloride ion, which is part of common salt and other compounds, it is abundant in nature and necessary to most forms of life, including humans. In its elemental form (Cl2 or "dichlorine") under standard conditions, chlorine is a powerful oxidant and is used in bleaching and disinfectants. As a common disinfectant, chlorine compounds are used in swimming pools to keep them clean and sanitary. In the upper atmosphere, chlorine-containing molecules such as chlorofluorocarbons have been implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer." See (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorine)
Are there any drawbacks? Well depending on who you talk to, or which articles you read, there are many different viewpoints ranging from those totally for, to those heavily opposed to chlorination. The World Health Organization has apparently stated that the risks associated from possible drawbacks from chlorination to be insignificant in comparison to inadequate disinfection of water supplies. On the other hand, studies have found various negative side effects to humans by consuming chlorinated water, and by using it for showering, bathing and washing of food such as vegetables. One just needs to scour the internet on this topic, and you will find thousands of articles covering the theories and studies put forward by both professionals and the general public alike.
What are the drawbacks or side effects to humans using chlorinated water? Again an internet search produces thousands of articles covering the long term effects of chlorinated water on humans. The main side-effects seem to cover:
· Cancer. Many studies have linked consumption of chlorinated water to increase the risk of cancers of the bladder, stomach and intestines.
· Reproductive issues. Chlorine in water has also been linked to an increase in miscarriages, still-births and other pregnancy problems.
· Asthma. Showering enables the chlorine in our water to vaporise, which is then inhaled while breathing and affects our lungs.
· Skin conditions. Bad Acne, dry skin, itchy skin, Eczema, brittle hair etc. have all been blamed on the use of chlorine in our water.
How can we then remove chlorine from our water? Removal of chlorine from our water is as simple as utilising a carbon or KDF water filter. Such filters are not always expensive and additionally may remove other impurities which may exist in water despite chlorination.
· Carbon filtration is great to remove chlorine and other chemicals and compounds from drinking water. There are many different grades of carbon type filters; the cheaper options usually remove most of the chlorine, taste and odour. Higher grade carbon water filters may remove as much as 99% chlorine, and at the same time removing cysts, heavy metals, organic compounds and other chemicals. Systems can range from cheap and nasty all the way through to overpriced and complicated. Some form of accreditation for a filter is always a good option.
· Shower filters containing KDF, when used with a low-flow shower head are excellent in reducing chlorine, sometimes by as much as 95% (depending on water quality and flow-rate). This reduces the possibility of you inhaling chlorine vapours. It also minimises your skin and hair absorbing chlorine and passing it into your body, and also reduces dry, itchy skin and brittle hair.
So is the use of Chlorine in our water a good thing?
From the viewpoint of having clean drinkable water on tap, yes it's great! From the viewpoint of the potential negative effects, that depends on what and whom you believe. Many people are passionately opposed to its use, whilst others don't seem to be bothered by it. Ultimately, chlorine is necessary if we want to continue enjoying safe water from our taps. It is, however, also extremely easy and cost effective to remove from our water. It is perhaps then pertinent to accept that it is necessary for chlorine to be in our water all the way to the point of consumption, and then simply use filters to remove it from drinking, showering and bath water to ensure that the water we use is free of anything which may be potentially harmful. After all, shouldn't we be drinking and bathing with water which is free of any chemicals, as nature intended it?
Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.