The Side Effects of Chlorine in Water
As a pure chemical, chlorine is extremely dangerous to human beings. As a gas, it attacks the eyes, skin, and lungs. When limited amounts are added to water, it works very effectively to kill bacteria and other dangerous pathogens. At the limited levels permitted by the EPA, chlorine in drinking water is not known to cause any immediate health concerns.
Chlorinated water can cause a number of side effects, however, including dry, itchy skin and hair. Swimmers who are exposed to more heavily chlorinate pool water may experience red, burning eyes and respiratory issues. Chlorine also gives water a distinct taste and odor that many people find objectionable.
Read more about the problems with chlorine in your water.
Chlorine in Shower Water
If you get your water from the city and are not filtering it in any way, then it's very likely that there is chlorine in your shower water. After chlorine is added to the water at the treatment plant, it's not removed – the fact that the chlorine stays active means that it continues to disinfect the water as it travels through pipes that could have bacteria or other germs in them. Once that water gets to your home, however, it's best to get rid of the chlorine.
Why is chlorine in shower water a concern? Because this chemical can be inhaled and absorbed through your skin. When you shower in hot water, you inhale the steam – water vapor that contains chlorine, disinfection byproducts like trihalomethanes, and many other water pollutants. Your digestive system is designed to handle possible toxins in a way that your lungs aren't, which means that even low level exposure to these chemicals through inhalation may have a much more significant effect than drinking them in water. Studies suggest that several types of trihalomethanes may cause cancer, and there are indications that cancer rates are higher for people who drink (and bathe in) chlorinated water.
What Can I Do About Chlorine?
If you have chlorinated water – and most people do – then you need a granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter. While drinking water filters will remove chlorine, disinfection byproducts, and many other chemicals from the water that you drink, it does nothing if there is chlorine in your shower water. Instead, you need a whole house water filter or a shower water filter that uses activated carbon. These filters are both affordable and effective, and a whole house filter will provide every faucet in your home with chlorine-free water.