written by: Cheryl Gabbert•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 4/24/2009
While many people avoid chlorinated drinking water, most of us bathe and shower in chlorinated water without a thought. The inhalation and absorption of chlorinated water can expose you to more dangerous chlorine and chlorine by-products than an entire day's worth of chlorinated water from a tap.
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Chlorinated Water: Dangers Beyond Drinking
Most of us are no longer drinking chlorinated water straight from the tap. As a society, we are becoming more aware of the dangers of chlorine in our drinking water. However, very few people own a water filter to remove the chlorine from the water we shower and bathe in on a daily basis. Most people are under the false assumtion that we don't need to worry about the chlorine we are exposed to in the tub and shower. Unfortunately, dry, brittle hair and itchy, dry skin are the least of the reasons we should stay away from chlorinated water in the shower. The National Academy of Sciences believes that up to 1,000 people actually die each year in the United States from cancers caused by taking in water contaminates, probably in the form of inhalation through showers. The Morris Study, a compilation of ten different cancer studies found that chlorine by-products are responsible for 9% of all bladder cancers and 15% of rectal cancers. Chlorine and its by-products have been associated with many different cancers, including cancer of the bladder, liver, stomach, rectum, and colon. Anemia, heart disease, asthma, allergies and arterioschlerosis are also linked to the use of chlorinated water.
Inhaling water vapor from a steamy shower produced by chlorinated water means that you are breathing in high amounts of chlorine. Inhaled chlorine has a direct route to the blood stream through the lungs. The amount of inhaled contaminates caused by chlorine by-products could be up to 100 times more than the water we drink, according to Dr. Lance Wallace, professor of water chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. This is partly because chlorine evaporates at a lower temperature. We also absorb chlorine through our skin when we bathe and shower in chlorinated water. According to the director of the Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory, Frances T. Mayo, the effects of chlorine may come from either ingesting it or through skin absorption. Skin absorption and inhalation of chlorine from showers and baths is usually from warm or hot water, which emits even more chlorine than cold water. We obviously can't disregard the dangers associated with inhaling and absorbing chlorinated water from our showers and baths.
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Filtering is the Answer
In addition to a water filter for your drinking water, it's a good idea to install a water filter in your bathroom. Shower filters are available to filter out the chlorine from the shower. Many varieties remove up to 99% of the chlorine from tap water. There are 4 main types of shower filters. Carbon filters remove impurities because the surface of carbon is sticky, and contaminants adhere to the carbon. Chlorgon filters work by changing chlorine to chloride, which is not harmful. Magnet or crystal filters soften water, and is used in conjunction with another method. KDF filters produce an electrical charge which converts chlorine to chloride. Most shower filters use more than one means of filtering water.
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1. Mr. Water Filter: http://www.mrwaterfilter.com/shower/choose.php
2. Chlorine and Your Shower: http://www.h2odistributors.com/chlorine.asp