History of Chlorine Danger



Writter by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

 

Dr. Joseph Price wrote a highly controversial book in the late sixties titled Coronaries/Cholesterol/ Chlorine and concluded that the basic cause of atherosclerosis and resulting entities such as heart attacks and stroke, is chlorine. While the study abstract is not available online, if you read his book, Dr. Price reported using chickens as test subjects in one of his studies where two groups of several hundred birds were observed throughout their span to maturity. One group was given water with chlorine and the other without. The group raised with chlorine, when autopsied, supposedly showed some level of heart or circulatory disease in every specimen, yet the group without had no incidence of disease. The group with chlorine under winter conditions showed outward signs of poor circulation, shivering, drooped feathers, and a reduced level of activity. The group without chlorine grew faster, larger, and displayed vigorous health. It would be a common sense conclusion that if regular chlorinated tap water is not good enough for the chickens, then it probably is not good enough for us humans!

Chlorine Dangers Today

There is a lot of well-founded concern about chlorine. When chlorine is added to our water, it combines with other natural compounds to form Trihalomethanes (chlorination byproducts), or THMs. These chlorine byproducts trigger the production of free radicals in the body, causing cell damage, and are highly carcinogenic. The Environmental Defense Fund warns that, “Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States.“

Chlorine is a pesticide and its sole purpose is to kill living organisms. When we consume water containing chlorine, it destroys cells and tissue inside our body. Dr. Robert Carlson, a highly respected University of Minnesota researcher whose work is sponsored by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, sums it up, “the chlorine problem is similar to that of air pollution” and adds that “chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times!”

Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and, as part of the literal salt of the earth, very abundant. Humans have harnessed chlorine and most commonly use it for disinfecting purposes. Unfortunately, chlorine’s potential toxicity is not limited to mold and fungus and has actually been linked to serious health dangers for humans.

Chlorine and Breast Cancer

Chlorine WaterBreast cancer, which now affects one in every eight women in North America, has recently been linked to the accumulation of chlorine compounds in the breast tissue. A study carried out in Hartford Connecticut, the first of its kind in North America, found that; “women with breast cancer have 50% to 60% higher levels of organochlorines (chlorination byproducts) in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer.”

Chlorine Inhalation

One of the most shocking components to all of these studies is that up to 2/3s of our harmful exposure to chlorine is due to inhalation of steam and skin absorption while showering. [2] A warm shower opens up the pores of the skin and allows for accelerated absorption of chlorine and other chemicals in water. The steam we inhale while showering can contain up to 50 times the level of chemicals than tap water due to the fact that chlorine and most other contaminants vaporize much faster and at a lower temperature than water. Inhalation is a much more harmful means of exposure since the chlorine gas (chloroform) we inhale goes directly into our blood stream. When we drink contaminated water the toxins are partially filtered out by our kidneys and digestive system. Chlorine vapors are known to be a strong irritant to the sensitive tissue and bronchial passages inside our lungs; it was used as a chemical weapon in World War II. The inhalation of chlorine is a suspected cause of asthma and bronchitis, especially in children, which has increased 300% in the last two decades. “Showering is suspected as the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home because of chlorine in the water.” Dr Lance Wallace, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Chlorine in shower water also has a very negative cosmetic effect, robbing our skin and hair of moisture and elasticity, resulting in a less vibrant and youthful appearance. Anyone who has ever swam in a chlorinated pool can relate to the harsh effects that chlorine has on the skin and hair. What’s surprising is that we commonly find higher levels of chlorine in our tap water than is recommended safe for swimming pools.

Chlorine Tastes Bad

Aside from all the health risks related to chlorine in our water, some say it is the primary cause of bad taste and odor in drinking water. The objectionable taste causes many people to turn to other less healthful beverages like soft drinks, tea, or other sweetened drinks. A decreased intake of water, for any reason, can only result in a lower degree of health.

Removing Chlorine From Water

The good news is that chlorine is one of the easiest substances to remove from our water. For that reason, it logically should serve its purpose of keeping our water free from harmful bacteria and water borne diseases right up to the time of consumption, where it should then be removed by quality home water filtration.

No one will argue that chlorine serves an important purpose, and that the hazards of doing away with chlorine are greater than or equal to the related health risks. The simple truth is that chlorine is likely here to stay. The idea that we could do away with chlorine any time in the near future is just not realistic. It is also clear that chlorine represents a very real and serious threat to our health and should be removed in our homes, at the point of use, both from the water we drink and the water we shower in.

Chlorine as a Disinfectant

Chlorine is in many household cleaners, it’s used as a fumigant, and, since it impedes the growth of bacteria like e. coli and giardia, and is often added to water systems as a disinfectant. Subsequently, much exposure happens by drinking treated tap water. While disinfection of drinking water is a necessary measure to reduce diseases, concerns have been raised about the safety of chlorine, which has been linked to serious adverse health effects, including dementia in elderly patients. [1]

Chlorine in Swimming Pools

Chlorinated swimming pool waterSwimming pool water must be cleaned, by some means, to prevent contamination and bacterial overgrowth. Chlorine isn’t the safest method, but is probably the most common. Consider what chlorine is- a poison. Diluting it just enough so that it’s strong enough to kill pool scum but not quite strong enough to kill a human doesn’t change that.

A review of available research (and there is a lot of it) by Marywood University confirms that long-term exposure to chlorinated pools can cause symptoms of asthma in swimmers. [2] This can affect athletes who were previously healthy, especially adolescents. [3] Additionally, eye and skin irritation in swimmers has been hypothesized to originate from chlorine exposure. [4]

Did you know that swimming pool chlorine is associated with tooth enamel erosion? It’s not often mentioned but the New York University College of Dentistry lists it as a prime concern. [5]

Millions of accidents and injuries happen every year in American homes, many of them involve exposure to toxic chemicals like bleach. Bleach can release chlorine gas and irritate the respiratory system if inhaled. If you’ve ever used this nasty stuff to clean a shower in a closed space, you have likely experienced the burn. [6] Consider this, chlorine is toxic enough to be a chemical weapon and categorized as a “choking agent”. [7]Inhalation of chlorine gas can cause difficulty breathing, chest pains, cough, eye irritation, increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, and death. Exposure would be a very traumatic experience. [8]

In fact, the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina reported a chlorine spill accident that happened in South Carolina in January of 2005. Ten months after the event, exposure victims were still so shaken that many reported recurring PTSD symptoms. [9]

Reducing Chlorine Exposure

Much chlorine exposure happens by choice and by simply making new choices you can help reduce exposure risks. If you have a pool, avoid chlorine products. There are alternative methods that can be used to keep pools disinfected, including silver-copper ion generators and salt water.

Avoid home cleaning products that contain chlorine. There are natural and organic alternatives available. You can even make your own.

One of the most significant measures you can take is to always drink purified water and consider a water purification system for your home. It will help to reduce toxins before the water even comes out the faucet.

References:
  1. Siritapetawee J, Pattanasiriwisawa W, Sirithepthawee U. Trace element analysis of hairs in patients with dementia. J Synchrotron Radiat. 2010 Mar;17(2):268-72. doi: 10.1107/S0909049509055319. Epub 2010 Jan 16.
  2. Fisk MZ, Steigerwald MD, Smoliga JM, Rundell KW. Asthma in swimmers: a review of the current literature. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Dec;38(4):28-34. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.12.1822. Review.
  3. Carlsen KH. The breathless adolescent asthmatic athlete. Eur Respir J. 2011 Sep;38(3):713-20. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00068510. Epub 2011 Mar 24. Review.
  4. Florentin A, Hautemanière A, Hartemann P. Health effects of disinfection by-products in chlorinated swimming pools. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2011 Nov;214(6):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Sep 1. Review.
  5. Jahangiri L, Pigliacelli S, Kerr AR. Severe and rapid erosion of dental enamel from swimming: a clinical report. J Prosthet Dent. 2011 Oct;106(4):219-23. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3913(11)60126-1.
  6. Mangat HS, Stewart TL, Dibden L, Tredget EE. Complications of chlorine inhalation in a pediatric chemical burn patient: a case report. J Burn Care Res. 2012 Jul-Aug;33(4):e216-21. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318254d1c8.
  7. Anderson PD. Emergency management of chemical weapons injuries. J Pharm Pract. 2012 Feb;25(1):61-8. doi: 10.1177/0897190011420677. Epub 2011 Nov 11. Review.
  8. Mohan A, Kumar SN, Rao MH, Bollineni S, Manohar IC. Acute accidental exposure to chlorine gas: clinical presentation, pulmonary functions and outcomes. Indian J Chest Dis Allied Sci. 2010 Jul-Sep;52(3):149-52.
  9. Ginsberg JP, Holbrook JR, Chanda D, Bao H, Svendsen ER. Posttraumatic stress and tendency to panic in the aftermath of the chlorine gas disaster in Graniteville, South Carolina. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Sep;47(9):1441-8. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0449-6. Epub 2011 Nov 10.
  10. R. D. Morris, A. M. Audet, I. F. Angelillo, T. C. CHalmers, and F. Mosteller. Chlorination, chlorination by-products, and cancer: a meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 1992 July; 82(7): 955-963.
  11. Villanueva CM, Cantor KP, Grimalt JO, et al. Assessment of lifetime exposure to trihalomethanes through different routes. Occup Environ Med. 2006 Apr;63(4):273-7.

Important note: * I am not a doctor and these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products or services promoted on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You need to do your own research.

 

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