View Full Version : The Health risk associated with water from our shower

21st August 2012, 09:52 PM
We all know the importance of drinking clean pure water but how many of you know that bathing in chlorine water can actually be WORSE than drinking it?

If you plan to, or have already taken action to effectively filter your drinking water from chlorine and other hazardous chemicals, I commend you for a very smart, healthy decision. It's an excellent start to protect yourself and your family by providing clean drinking water… as well as safe water for cooking and washing produce.

However, there's a much greater source of water toxin exposure that you face every day… which could be as much as 10-20 times greater than the water you drink.

The issue with chlorine is not just way it smells or dries out your hair or skin,, but what it produces in your water supply when it combines with organic matter. When chlorine interacts with this organic matter, disinfection byproducts (DBPs) form.

And these DBPs are far more toxic than the chlorine itself. In fact, DBPs are responsible for the vast majority of the toxic effects of chlorinated water.

As it turns out, estimates range as high as 10,000 times… the toxicity of DBPs compared to the actual chlorine. So, that's why I feel closer attention needs to be paid to the DBPs found in your water.

Why are DBPs so dangerous? Some of the most common disinfection byproducts that form from the reaction of chlorine and organic matter are trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are classified as Cancer Group B carcinogens… meaning they've been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

I'll have more details on THMs coming up and how to avoid them, but first you should understand…

Why Filtering Your Drinking Water is NOT Enough

For many years, researchers believed ‘exposure’ to disinfection byproducts came only when chlorine was swallowed. But studies now show how drinking the water is not the only risk. And is likely not even the most severe.

Here's some startling information about the dangers of chlorine exposure beyond your drinking water…

On average, you drink about 1-2 gallons of water per day… but you expose yourself to 25 gallons of water when you shower.
As concluded by the American Journal of Public Health… up to two-thirds of harmful chlorine exposure can be due to skin absorption and inhalation while showering.
The steam inhaled during a shower can contain up to 20 times the concentration of chlorine (and other synthetic chemicals) as tap water.
You can easily absorb as many toxins in 1 shower as you would drinking tap water for an entire week.
Studies show that after a 10-minute shower in chlorinated water, your blood levels of THMs (common disinfection byproduct – DBP) can potentially increase by as much as a staggering 700%.
The bottom line… chlorine and its byproducts are the unseen danger lurking in almost every shower. And your health risks can far exceed those of simply drinking tap water.

Now you know why I'm making it clear that filtering only your drinking water is not enough. That hot steamy shower you love so much and find soothing and relaxing, well, it's potentially filled with vaporized gasses that could harm you and your family.

So, what can you do to avoid all this? I'll get to that coming up, but first let me get into a few more details on why chlorine, DBPs, and other chemicals found in your shower can get into your system so easily.

How Contaminants Invade Your Body When You Shower

You've just learned, and maybe for the first time, how your exposure to chlorine and its associated DBPs can be very high when you shower.

But why doesn't the chlorinated water just bounce off your body and go down the drain?

The problem is… a hot steamy shower…

Triggers your skin pores to open, which in turn…
Spikes a high absorption rate of chlorine and other chemicals directly into your system and…
Helps create a ‘free pass’ of foreign chemicals into your body fluids and bloodstream – unlike drinking tap water where your digestive processes at least get a chance to filter out some of the harmful contaminants.
The other issue most people don't think about in that hot, steamy shower they enjoy so much… is inhalation.

Your shower is a hotbed for dangerous chemical vapors as they…

Quickly form in the hot, steamy environment – 70% to 90% of the chemicals in your shower water vaporize before the water ever hits the shower floor
Get inhaled in high concentrations into your lungs and absorbed through your skin, and can go directly into your bloodstream
Have a magnified effect compared to chemicals you might swallow from tap water because there's nothing to filter them out
So, this is the unfortunate reality on how chlorine and other potentially harmful chemicals in your shower water can easily end up in your body

But what are the possible consequences of absorbing and inhaling chlorine and other chemicals into your body?

Potential Health Risks from Unprotected Showers

Simply put… absorbing and inhaling too much chlorine and associated DBPs are not healthy for you or your family. Long-term health risks certainly can spike due to chlorine effects on your bodily functions.

Cases in point…

American Journal of Public Health – Linked chlorine absorption and inhalation exposure to increased cancer, asthma, and skin irritation risks.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – When chlorine vaporizes in steam in your shower, it converts to chloroform gas. Chloroform can be a strong respiratory irritant and cause fatigue.
The bottom line – When absorbed or inhaled into your body, chlorine DBPs can potentially cause… weakening of your immune system… disruptions to your central nervous system… damaging effects to your cardio system… unhealthy functioning of your renal system… and harmful impacts to your respiratory system.
These are just a few of the potential risks you face when showering in chlorine water. Many studies have also been done that point to the dangerous chlorine vapors found in indoor swimming pools.

A European study conducted by the Department of Public Health in Brussels, Belgium, found that even outdoor swimming pool exposure to chlorinated water could be detrimental to your health.

Any doubt as to the risks of absorbing and inhaling chlorine and its associated DBPs? But what can you do to avoid all this in your shower? I'll get to that shortly, but first there's another downside to showering in hot, steamy chlorinated water…

How Chlorine Can Wreak Havoc with Your Hair

Hair color and dye are often among the few cosmetics even ‘natural-minded’ people justify using. Many people, and not just women, want to cover up what they consider unsightly gray hair.

Well, showering in water with chlorine concentrations can potentially impact the longevity of your hair dye.

How? Chlorine strips the natural protective oils from your skin and hair… causing excess drying. This in turn breaks down the dye.

If you've been a visitor to my site over the years, you might already know how I feel about the risks of hair dye. Your scalp has a very rich blood supply capable of transporting dye toxins throughout your body. So, if you must use it, coloring your hair less often is better than doing it more on a regular basis.

But by showering in steamy chlorinated water, the chances of having to dye your hair more often increases due to the effects of the chlorine.

So, enough already… Let's start to look at what steps you can take to make your shower a safer place for both you and your family. After all, everyone has to shower or bathe to stay clean and refreshed.

How to Minimize Your Exposure to Steamy Shower Contaminants

First of all, your local municipal water supply company is obligated by law to provide you a breakdown of what's in your water. It's extremely likely it contains chlorine and DBPs. I strongly recommend you request a quality report from your local water purveyor at least once a year (if you're not already receiving one).

Many companies make the information available online. If not, contact them directly to find out how you can get a report and what's in the water you use. I strongly recommend you do this just to see what you're up against and to become more informed on water safety.

Here are some simple steps I recommend you take to minimize your exposure to chlorine and DBPs in your shower.

Limit the amount of time you spend in your shower – The longer you shower the more your exposure to toxins increases. It's estimated that doubling your shower time quadruples the amount of vaporized chemical gases you're exposed to.
Bath in well water if possible. Unfortunately this is not possible for most but if you are fortunate enough to have a well with clean water most of your toxic bathing contaminant concerns are eliminated.
Lower the temperature of your shower water – Hot water opens up the pores of your skin allowing a higher absorption rate of chlorine, DBPs, and other chemicals. Plus, the steam produced can contain high concentrations of vaporized gasses you can inhale.
Use lower water pressure. This will decrease the amount of water coming in and contaminants coming out of the fixture. Additionally if you have a shower filter it will also increase the contact time with the media and allow more contaminants to be removed.
Get serious about shower water safety by acknowledging the risks associated with showering in chlorinated water – Consider obtaining a high-quality filtration system for your shower.
To me, that last step could be the most important in protecting yourself and your family from shower water contaminants. The real challenge is finding a high-quality system that filters out chlorine, DBPs, and other chemicals, as well as is practical and affordable.

source - Dr Mercola