Chlorine in Water – Why?

Chlorine in water. The addition of chlorine in drinking water has been the standard in water treatment in the United States since 1904.  Chlorine purifies our water and kills off any waterborne pathogens.  It should be noted that the US has one of the safest water supplies in the world.

In general, water chlorination is the process of adding chlorine (Cl2) or hypochlorite to water.  The method is used to kill certain bacteria and other microbes in tap water, as chlorine is highly toxic.  In particular, this process is used to hinder the spread of waterborne diseases.  Without chlorine or some other form of water disinfection treatment, people would die from these devastating infections.

When is Chlorine in Water Bad for You?

The drawbacks of drinking chlorinated water have only recently been documented.

In some circumstances, disinfection by chlorination can be problematic.  Chlorine can react with naturally occurring organic compounds found in the water supply to produce other compounds known as disinfection by-products (DBPs).  The most common DBPs are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs).

What the studies have found is that chlorine in the water itself is not the main problem; rather it has to do with what happens when the chlorine mixes with any type of organic matter in the water.

Trihalomethanes

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that when chlorine is added to water, it forms trihalomethanes (THMs), one of which is chloroform.  THMs increase the production of free radicals and may even cause cancer in some cases.

Chlorine and THMs have been linked to various types of cancer, kidney and liver damage. They have also been linked to immune system dysfunction, disorders of the nervous system, hardening of the arteries and birth defects as well as heart disease, unconsciousness, or death in cases of high doses. Due to the potential health risks, drinking water regulations across the developed world require regular monitoring.  The World Health Organization has stated though that “the risks to health from these by-products are extremely small in comparison with the risks associated with inadequate disinfection”.

Chlorine as a Standalone

There are also other concerns regarding chlorine itself. It can naturally disappear too quickly from the water system and can bring up issues with taste and odor. Unfortunately, we are learning the hard way that we don’t understand the chemical as well as we hoped. As our attempts to prevent illness have caused a number of other issues.

Bathing and showering in unfiltered chlorinated tap water, just as drinking it, can also cause problems, according to the Journal of Public Health, and numerous other scientists and doctors.

Safely Removing Chlorine from your Water

A handful of cities in the southwest US have found a better way to disinfect their water by treating it through a process called ozonation.  It is more expensive, but the side effects appear to be minimal.

Unfortunately, living in Pittsburgh PA we do not have this being done to our water supply. So what can we do?   The most powerful and cost-effective way to get disinfected, chlorine-free water is to invest in a whole house water filter. If you believe that you want to remove all of the chlorine from all of your water then this approach might be your best bet.

Using Filters

There are also filters available for drinking water or for use on your shower.  This way you can limit the removal to the use that you are concerned about.  One of our client’s wives was diagnosed with cancer. She is considering putting a filter on her shower for chlorine. And she wants to use a different type of filer on her drinking water because of fracking in her area.

You can Always Call on Proudfoot!

We at Proudfoot do not have the expertise to tell you what to do with the filtration of water. There is a lot of conflicting reporting on the various filters and the different claims of different science experts. If you have determined that you need a whole house system or a drinking water and/or shower system, we can help with the installation process.  Before you buy systems, it is a good idea to shop for an installation partner that you trust.  Installation costs for water filtration systems can cost as much in some cases as the filter.  Simply Contact us for help.

Image Credit – Adobe Stock

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At Proudfoot Plumbing, Heating, and Air we are here to help you and are happy to process your scheduling request by email if that is your preference.  Please indicate what service area you are in need of your request and we will get back to you within one business day of receiving your request.

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