Chlorine & Chloramines

One of the biggest sources of chlorine exposure is through drinking chlorinated water and showering & bathing in such water. The positive side of chlorinating water is that it kills bacteria that might otherwise cause an acute disease should the water become contaminated. However, there is a downside in that chlorinated water may have an adverse effect on bacteria -- including the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract! In addition, chlorinated water contains THM's which are absorbed through drinking and in significant amounts in the shower (through the lungs and the skin). Among the hazards of THM's, is an increased cancer risk. The ATSDR lists just of of several possible THM's, chloroform amongst the
Top 20 Hazardous Substances: ATSDR/EPA Priority List for 1997.

Some municipalities have begun to use chloramines instead of chlorine as a disinfectant. Chloramines cannot easily be filtered from water and therefore, my suggestion of using spring water for drinking and cooking is the safest bet in the long run. This is especially true as municipalities experiment with other poorly-tested chemicals in the water.

The simple solution to problems with chlorine from water is to drink and cook with water labelled as "Spring" water and to purchase a filter for the shower and bath. N.E.E.D.S. and other organzations sell shower filters. Such a filter has helped some people feel better, but it is more important to consider it an investiment in preventing future illnesses.