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Chlorine in your Water

Jul 30, 2017 0 comments
Chlorine in your Water

A necessary evil?

All municipal water treatment facilities use chlorine in some form or another—that is a given—because it is such an effective way to kill bacteria.  However, even if you use well water, there’s still a chance that chlorine is a component.  All sorts of things can get into your water supply which is why some things should not be downhill of other things, and minimum distances should be maintained.
Chlorine is pretty accommodating though; when it is present in large amounts it is pretty easy to detect with your nose.  This is particularly true in the shower because at shower temperatures chlorine becomes gaseous and then you inhale this rather noxious chemical.  

The Threat

The most noticeable problem with chlorine is that it decreases the skin’s ability to hold onto water.  From that characteristic arise other problems like dry skin, itchiness, irritation, and in many cases, just plain old dandruff.  Regular exposure to chlorine can cause damaged, brittle hair, and premature hair color loss.  

The best idea is to eliminate chlorine from your shower water altogether.  The reasoning is simple.  Large or chronic exposures can actually precipitate the development of asthma in previously healthy individuals, and there are other important disease risks, such as cancer, to be concerned about.  

Environmental risks might include working long-term as a lifeguard at an over-chlorinated swimming pool, working as a laundromat attendant, or working in an industry that allows regular exposure to chlorine gas.  Chlorine has done its job as the water travels to us and so we should truly appreciate it.  Water is clean and safe when it leaves the treatment plant on its way to us.

However, on its journey, it gets stored in water reservoirs, and it travels in massive water mains underneath our streets.  There it sits until you turn on your tap.  And those reservoirs, water mains, and even local storage tanks can grow their own bacteria, viruses, and protozoans.  The simple truth of the matter is that chlorine is a highly effective disinfectant, preventing dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases.

Once it gets to our house, however, we don’t need it anymore.  Why would we want to spray ourselves with disinfectant in the shower?  That’s why we invented soap!

Another thing to take note of is the fact that as the waters sluices over our skin, we tend to absorb 80% of the chlorine or its DBPs (discussed below).  When you combine that with the gaseous chlorine that we breathe because of the heat, we’re getting a rather significant dose.  In one shower, the chlorine that we absorb is the equivalent of having drunk 2 gallons of water.  That is certainly more than we would ordinarily get in the course of a day.

More Problems

Chlorine reacts with other organics in the environment under certain circumstances.  This creates what are called Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs).

There are seven different common THMs and five common HAAs.  None have been specifically identified as a threat, but in the presence of many of them, they collectively have been shown to raise the incidence of disease (such as cancer) and cause physiological effects (slowed mental processes manifesting as sleepiness or sedation).

As an example, chronic exposure to both dibromochloromethane and bromoform (both are THMs) can cause liver and kidney cancer, as well as heart disease, unconsciousness, or death in high doses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is quick to point out that "the risks to health from these by-products are extremely small in comparison with the risks associated with inadequate disinfection.“  No one who is knowledgeable is suggesting that we do away with chlorine disinfection.  

The thing to remember here is that both THMs and HAAs are dangerous with prolonged and repeated exposures over several years.  It’s equally important to note that both of these contaminants are quite susceptible to filtration.

Chlorine, Taste, and Odor Filters

CTO filters are precisely what their name implies.  They scavenge chlorine from the water to improve the taste and smell.  They may scavenge other things but manufacturers usually make no additional claims for them.  

These filters generally remove 90% of the chlorine in your water stream at a low flowrate of 0.79 gallons/3 liters per minute, but fall off to 70% as the flowrate increases to a gallon or more per minute.  If this sort of filter is based on Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) technology, its efficiency for removing hydrogen sulfide and chlorine is significantly compromised as the water temperature increases, so water is best dechlorinated before it gets to the carbon element.

On the whole, in our high quality filter, the calcium sulfite component is 100% effective in removing chlorine in any temperature of water.  It can be safely said that CTO filters are universally inferior, and not a good buy.

The Takeaway

This is the reason that you need a compound filter incorporating multiple elements.  A calcium sulfite element is the only way to remove 100% of the chlorine.  Although less useful for chlorine, GAC and KDF filters remove other undesirable elements, while inhibiting the growth of algae, fungi, and mold.  

All together these elements rebalance the pH levels of your water and optimize the mineral level for soft water that not only makes your soaps and shampoos feel more effective, but leaves your skin feeling cleaner than ever before.

If you live in an area with over-chlorinated water and other undesirable contaminants (as most of us do), please feel free to look over our exceptional selection of high quality filtration products.  We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have.  Just click here to go directly to our online contact form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!


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