Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Water you doing the rest of your life?

Every choice in life comes with a price tag. Usually, we don’t mind because the benefits vastly outweigh the costs. Ask a mother holding her newborn, if the pain of childbirth was a fair trade for the miracle in her arms. Or an Olympian, standing on the gold medal podium, if the years of grueling training were well spent. Clearly, to get something, we need to give something.

But in today’s world, there are times when we give up a lot for dubious returns. Take chlorine, for example. About a hundred years ago, when it was introduced as a disinfectant for our water supply, chlorine was hailed as a glorious weapon against cholera, typhoid and many other water-borne diseases. And, no doubt, it has since saved untold numbers of lives. Also, the corollary benefits have been massive – whole cities have grown and prospered as the result of the availability of disease-free tap water to homes and industry.

Ok, so what’s the problem?

In a word, trihalomethanes.

Now that’s a mouthful and a half, so let’s call them THMs. These are toxins that result when the chlorine in our water supply mixes and interacts with organic matter.  These carcinogenic THMs have been linked to many of the diseases that plague us today: asthma, respiratory allergies, eczema, bladder cancer, heart disease, as well as increased birth defects and much more.

But, you drink bottled water, or filter your own, so you’re out of the danger zone, right?

Not exactly.

Our skin isn’t a flat, continuous barrier. It is a living organ, whose porous surface is in constant and intimate interaction with our environment. Numerous studies have proven that THMs are absorbed into our bodies through our skin.

So, every time you swim in a chlorinated pool, or take a breather in the warm, chlorinated waters of a Jacuzzi, or wash your body in the shower or tub supplied by the tap water coming out of your pipes.  Every time you do these things, you expose yourself to the harmful effects of THMs. Think about that for a moment. Just how much exposure are you and your children getting in an average week, month, year, decade? I don’t know about you, but it boggles my mind.

Are there alternatives to chlorine for keeping our water safe? You betcha!

First, the obvious. The more pure the water that enters our treatment plants, the less of any disinfectant we have to throw at the problem.  So, let’s continue to clean up our rivers, streams and lakes.

But what can you do right now to protect yourself from the harmful effects of chlorine and THMs? Well, you can move to one of the cities that uses ozone instead of chlorine to disinfect its water. What? You say that moving isn’t an option? Hope is not lost! You can easily get a filter to clean your water right at the faucet.  Look for carbon-based filters, which are considered to be the most effective at removing THMs and other toxins. If you are traveling, or for some other reason unable to access a filter, the next best thing is leaving the water, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 24 hours, the amount of time considered to be adequate for chlorine and its related compounds to dissipate.

There are now many companies offering safer alternatives to keeping your pool water clean. Copper silver ionization is a good one to look into.  Here’s a fun fact you can use to impress your friends - the Vikings applied copper strings on their ships to prevent marine species from growing on the walls of their ships. And silver coins were dunked in water to improve water quality. Facts like that don’t tend to impress my friends, but you may have better luck. Or more easily impressed friends.

So, how about it? Will you take some simple steps to make your water chlorine- and THM-free? Remember, you have to give something to get something. So, invest some time and a little money and what you’ll get is water that doesn’t make you sick.


  1. Dr. Brian Clement says that overexposure to chlorine (swimmers, etc.) increases risk of colon cancer by 400%!

  2. I extremly enjoyed reading your article. Water has lots of healthy features. It makes us chill out, stay healthy and just enjoy its beauty.