Bookmark Website  | Free Registration  | The Team
The Lounge  | Champions  | The Wire |  Schedule |  Audio  |  Arcade  |  The Top Ten  |  Historical  |  Email  |  Video

The Two Faces of Chlorine


If you are like most people, you don't enjoy the taste of chlorine in your drinking water. Nevertheless, you're willing to put up with it because it kills certain bacteria that are harmful to your health.

This article will look at the "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" characteristics of chlorinated water. These characteristics are much more ominous than the mere combination of bad taste and health benefits might suggest.

The Dr. Jekyll of Water Treatment . . .

Time magazine hailed the use of chlorination in water treatment as one of the major scientific achievements of the 20th century. Chlorine was first used to treat the public water supplies of Jersey City, New Jersey in 1908. Since then, it has achieved almost universal application in the industrialized nations.

The impact of chlorinating public water supplies has been dramatic. In 1908, the average life expectancy in America was 49 years. At the turn of the 21st Century, the average life expectancy had risen to 77 years and it is still climbing.

In 1941, Mathieson Alkali Works published the document, "Hypo-Chlorination of Water." The document colorfully described the lifesaving benefits of chlorine: "The fearsome specter of water-borne diseases, including typhoid fever, so prevalent before the advent of chlorination, can be successfully laid to rest. The water works operator, by his testing and treating, stands as a vigilant sentinel to prevent armies of billions of disease organisms from invading the homes of his community."

The use of this chemical in the treatment of drinking water is responsible for the elimination of typhoid and cholera, especially in developed countries.

The Mr. Hyde of Water Treatment . . .

The benefits of using chlorine as a sanitizing agent are obvious. However, this water treatment agent has a darker side. All the time we thought we were preventing epidemics of one disease? we were creating another. Two decades after the start of chlorinating our drinking water the present epidemic of heart trouble and cancer began.

When water treatment facilities employ chlorine and other disinfectants to control microbial contaminants, they react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in the water. This reaction produces Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM). These trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform.

According to the EPA, trihalomethanes are present in most public water supplies. The scarey thing is that some scientific studies link TTHMs to an increased risk of cancer. The U.S. Council of Environmental Quality reports that Cancer risks among people using chlorinated water are up to 93% higher than among those whose water contains no chlorine.

Other studies suggest that TTHMs may cause problems in the reproductive process. They may also be linked to heart, lung, kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage.

Skin Absorption of Chlorine . . .

Most assessments of the effects of water borne contaminants on the human body assume that ingestion through the drinking of water is the primary route of exposure. However, recent studies at the University of Pittsburgh found less chemical exposure from drinking chlorinated water than from showering or washing clothes in it. The study found that, on average, absorption through the skin accounted for 64% of water borne contaminants entering the body. Recent research shows that we have underestimated the amount of contaminants absorbed through the skin. This research reveals that ingestion may not be the sole or even primary route of exposure.

Besides penetration of contaminants through the skin, the contaminants can adversely affect the skin and hair. Chlorine bonds chemically with proteins in the hair, skin and scalp. As a result: (1) the hair can become rough and brittle and lose its color, (2) the skin can become dry and itchy, and (3) it can aggravate sensitive areas in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

Inhaling Chlorine By-Products When Showering Is a Major Threat . . .

Evidence clearly shows that contaminants like chloroform and trichloroethylene do serious harm when ingested or absorbed into the body. However, the major threat caused by these water pollutants is far more likely to be as air pollutants.

Hot showers can release these dissolved contaminants into the air. The lungs absorb these contaminants, including chlorine, trichloroethylene, chloroform, benzene. They pass from the lungs into the bloodstream.

Conclusion . . .

While chlorinating public water supplies is perhaps the most efficient way to address the problem of water contamination, it does present a "catch 22" situation. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

How do we deal with this seemingly impossible situation? It appears that the better part of wisdom would show that chlorine should do its work until it gets to the point of use. At that point we can remove it along with the trihalomethanes and other contaminants with a quality home water filter.

Earl Calvert is a freelance writer and lives in Birmingham, AL. As an advocate for clean drinking water, Earl designed his website on drinking water to educate the public water quality issues. For more information, go to http://good-clean-water.com


MORE RESOURCES:

Huffington Post

What The Government Got Wrong About Nutrition -- And How It Can Fix It
Huffington Post
“It's true that the focus on reducing fat in the DGAs implicitly led to higher carbs,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health. “And that became problematic, because the vast majority of carbs ...

and more »


Medscape

Processed Food Is Vital in US Diet, Nutrition Society States
Medscape
Processed foods are an important part of the US food supply and ensure that Americans have food to eat (food security) and food that meets nutritional guideline requirements (nutrition security), according to a controversial scientific statement issued ...



Impulse Nutrition serves smoothies; Five Guys on Archer reopens soon
Gainesville Sun
The old Florida National Bank drive-thru building at the corner of Northwest First Avenue and Northwest Second Street recently reopened as a nutrition bar that serves smoothies and herbal teas. Impulse Nutrition first welcomed customers in mid-June.

and more »


Nutrition for the next generation
Devex
Students eat their lunch at school in Nigeria. Good nutrition is one of the best investments political leaders can make in the next generation, writes International Food Policy Research Institute's Lawrence Haddad. Photo by: Gates Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND.



Nutrition: Vegan communities are growing
Buffalo News
Nutrition science prefers discussing a whole-plant-food diet, rather than a vegan one, to eliminate connotations of animal-rights or environmental ideology. But there's little debate that diets limited to vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, spices and ...



Column: Business offers nutrition for body and soul
Cincinnati.com
Complete Nutrition offers the highest quality health products, so I wondered how Chuck reconciled his beliefs in spiritual healing with selling things for physical health. He said, “A key to healing is to get to the heart of what is causing your ...



How nutrition data can help predict food insecurity risk
Devex
Malnutrition has long been thought merely as an outcome of the lack of safe and nutritious food. Today, it may also predict the susceptibility of people to food insecurity. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, an authority on information about ...



Peachy keen Rocky Point farmers market accepts nutrition program vouchers
NorthShoreOfLongIsland.com
With a weather forecast that called for cloudy skies and a chance of rain, Meryl Rosenthal of Sayville ditched plans to head to the Bronx for a Yankee game Sunday. Instead, she ended up at the Rocky Point Farmers and Artisan Market's peach festival ...



Bullying, nutrition among issues tackled by students from Springfield Summer ...
MassLive.com
They urged others to read the nutrition information on the back of food packages and to make exercise a part of their lives. And they also enjoyed a video montage of some of the scenes from the summer camp held at the Springfield College campus.



CNBC.com

Hospira May Buy Danone Medical-Nutrition Unit for $5 Billion
Wall Street Journal
Such a deal, which could allow Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira to move its domicile abroad for tax purposes, has yet to be completed, and the talks could lead nowhere. In an inversion deal, a U.S. company acquires all or part of a foreign firm, a move ...
Danone Advances After Medical-Nutrition Unit Talk ReportsBloomberg
Hospira in talks to buy Danone medical nutrition armCNBC.com
Danone In Talks With Hospira To Sell Its Medical Nutrition Business For $5B ...International Business Times
Binary Tribune -Reuters UK
all 75 news articles »

Google News


Advertisement



Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us

Copyright 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.