Recently at Rainsoft Ottawa we became aware that more parents are concerned about their children’s allergies to chlorine in our drinking water. We encourage you to read as much as you can on the dangers of chlorine in tap water (dangers in drinking the water and also bathing/showering in chlorinated water) so that you can make an informed decision about systems that will remove the chlorine from your water.
How Dangerous is Chlorine in our Tap Water?
Tap water is one of the four most pressing health threats posed by environmental problems. Each year the correlations between contaminated drinking water and cancer, learning disabilities, and asthma are becoming stronger and clearer. Even if tap water has gone through municipal treatment before reaching your home faucet, it is often far from safe. In many cases, municipal water treatment facilities actually add dangerous chemicals to water in the process of treatment.
Dangerous chemicals and other contaminants are constantly present in our tap water.
Many people may say that attacks on the quality of tap water are simply scare tactics designed to increase profit for bottled water and water treatment companies. Yet, large increases in cancers and other diseases related to poor drinking water quality point unabashedly to a large problem in the current quality of our tap water. What follows is a brief listing of contaminants that could very likely be in your tap water as well as a discussion of how these contaminants may affect your health.
Chlorine: Chlorine is perhaps one of the most dangerous and insidious poisons in our drinking water supply. Surprisingly, it is a municipal additive to drinking water. Water treatment facilities use chlorine as a powerful disinfectant to kill or inactivate biological water contaminants, but that same chlorine that is so toxic to biological contaminants is also poisonous to our bodies. Chlorine in drinking water is currently a leading cause of bladder and rectal cancer and asthma. Health officials are now linking chlorine ingestion to breast cancer, as well.
Clearly, tap water is unsafe and unsuitable for drinking, and bottled water is not the panacea we would like it to be. In many cases, bottled water is nothing more than reconstituted, rebottled tap water
Water filters, with their use of both chemical and physical processes to block contaminant passage, are the only type of water treatment that can effectively and efficiently remove chlorine and reduce other dangerous contaminants from drinking water. The dangerous nature of tap water clearly warrants the use of a drinking water filter…
If it cleanses your water, then what is the problem?
Health officials are concerned with the chlorinating by-products, also known as “chlorinated hydrocarbons” or trihalomethanes (THM‘s). Most THM’s are formed in drinking water when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring substances such as decomposing plant and animal materials. Risk for certain types of cancer are now being correlated to the consumption of chlorinated drinking water. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality states that “there is increased evidence for an association between rectal, colon and bladder cancer and the consumption of chlorinated drinking water.” Suspected carcinogens make the human body more vulnerable through repeated ingestion and research indicates the incidence of cancer is 44% higher among those using chlorinated water.
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted new regulations in 1980 for cities to lower the chlorination by-products in water to level not exceeding 100 parts per billion, experts believe that it still doesn’t provide proper safeguards and should be strengthened. Unfortunately, there is a little likelihood that the use of chlorine will be discontinued since it is currently the most economically acceptable chemical for bacterial control at this time. It is ironic that the process of chlorination, by which we cleanse our water of infectious organisms, can create cancer-causing substances from otherwise innocent chemicals in water. Expert voices from now and earlier:
“Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. While it prevented epidemics of one disease, it was creating another. Two decades ago, after the start of chlorinating our drinking water in 1904, the epidemic of heart trouble, cancer and senility began.”
J.M. Price, MD
IS YOUR WATER SAFE TO DRINK? – Consumer Reports Books
Chlorinated Drinking Water Linked to Cancer
November 21, 1999 The Toronto Star
Task force to conduct tests in hundreds of communities
Ottawa (CP) – A new federal analysis concludes that chlorinated drinking water may pose a cancer risk to humans, particularly the risk of bladder cancer.
The report by the Laboratory Center for Disease Control, made public yesterday, is based on an exhaustive review of dozens of studies carried out over recent years in Canada and abroad.
The review has already spurred the Federal-Provincial Drinking Water Committee to re-examine existing standards for levels of chlorine by-products (CBPs).
Despite the undisputed benefit of chlorination in controlling infectious diseases, the epidemiological studies indicate an elevated incidence of bladder cancer among those who have been exposed to chlorinated drinking water for long periods.
“If you put those two lines of evidence together I would say it comes out as a probable link (between chlorinated water and cancer),” said health department expert Donald Wigle, who wrote the review.
He said a task force would test drinking water in hundreds of communities across Canada to determine precisely the current concentrations of chlorination by-products. The task force will also survey equipment and practices at water purification plants across the country to determine how costly it would be to lower the current limit on the chemicals. One of the most effective ways to reduce concentrations of the chemicals is to use filtration. But many communities, especially smaller ones, don’t have up-to-date filtration systems.
Wigle said a new standard, if one is deemed necessary, probably won’t be proclaimed until late next year. He said consumers could protect themselves from the risk by using household water filters or drinking bottled water.
Chlorine’s Health Effects
In addition to diet and exercise, maintaining optimum health involves controlling toxic pollutants commonly found indoors. Many people who suffer from allergies find their complaints aggravated by substances that have become part of everyday life. Whether we like it or not, most of us spend 70 to 90% of our time indoors, bombarding our immune systems with chemicals and irritants from carpeting, cleaning products, tobacco smoke, pesticides, dust, plastics, fiberglass, asbestos, automobile exhaust, and even the chlorine that is routinely added to municipal water supplies…
While chlorine occurs in nature, chiefly as a component of sodium chloride in sea water and salt deposits, it irritates the eyes and throat, and it is poisonous when swallowed or inhaled. In 1992, the American Medical Association published information that stated “nearly 28% of all cancer of the intestines and 18% of all cancer of the bladder were caused by the drinking of chlorinated water.” Chlorine may also be a culprit in cancer, although studies undertaken to determine if this is the case remain incomplete.
Potential Contribution to Heart Disease
The patent for chlorination was granted in 1888 to Dr. Albert R. Leeds, Professor of Chemistry at Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The next year, the first chlorination of a public water supply was attempted in Adrian, Michigan. It wasn’t until 1908, however, that chlorination was used on a large scale, at Boonton Reservoir waterworks in Jersey City, New Jersey. By the 1940s, chlorination was widespread in the United States.
Concerns about chlorine and health began in the 1960s. In one study, an association was shown to exist between chlorination and heart disease, evidence that was, interestingly, discovered in Jersey City, the site of the first large-scale chlorination project. The severity of heart disease among people over the age of 50 correlated with the amount of chlorinated tap water they consumed. A statistically significant correlation demonstrated that those persons over 50 who did not suffer from heart disease drank mostly unchlorinated fluids such as bottled water, or boiled water (chlorine is released as a gas when boiled).
Dr. Joseph Price, author of Coronaries, Cholesterol, Chlorine, has stated that he believes chlorine is the cause of “an unprecedented disease epidemic which includes heart attacks and strokes … Most medical researchers were led to believe it was safe, but now we are learning the hard way that 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 in 1940, the present epidemic of heart trouble and cancer began.”
Although numerous studies have been conducted in the attempt to discover how chlorine may be a factor in cancer, no research has determined specifically that chlorine is a responsible agent. (See, for example, T. Pate, R. H. Harris, S. S. Epstein, “Drinking Water and Cancer Mortality in Louisiana,” Science Vol. 193, 1976, 55-57). But the relationship between heart disease and chlorinated water is well established – alas, even chickens and pigeons used in tests to determine the effects of chlorine showed evidence of either atherosclerosis of the aorta or obstruction of the circulatory system.
Rainsoft of Ottawa can certainly dispel your fears about the dangerous effects of chlorine. Our two systems that remove chlorine in your drinking water or in your bath, shower and laundry water are a Reverse Osmosis System and the Whole House Carbon Filtration System.
Contact us for information, a free water analysis test and chlorine removal systems.
Ottawa, 613-742- 0058 for an appointment.
PART 2: “TAKING LONG HOT SHOWERS IS A HEALTH RISK – FACT, NOT FICTION” IS OUR NEXT BLOG