Chlorinated Water in the Shower

The following article is republished from Rainshow’r:

Dear Rainshow’r Customer,

The following is an excerpt from an article first published in the Australian Magazine, Nature & Health. Vol. 10. No. 4., Issue Summer 1989. 

Article published by: Whedon Young Productions Pty. Ltd. 372 Eastern Valley Way, Chatswood, New South Wales 2067, Australia From "One Hundred Years Of Water Chlorination", Pages 44-49, by John F. Ashton, Chief Chemist Australian Food Research Laboratories and by Dr. Ronald S. Laura, Professor in Education, University of Newcastle and Chairman, Sports Medicine and Health Education Committee, Hunter Academy of Sport, New South Wales.

Chlorinated Water and Unknown Hazards of the Shower

There is another side to the chlorine-water story. When we return from a gym workout or a jogging session or a game of squash, not only are we thirsty but we usually shower or bathe. We have been taught that cleanliness and health go together, and indeed they do, when chemical-free water is used. When chlorinated water is used, however, bathing may be much less healthy than we ever supposed.   

Gasses are as a rule less soluble in hot water, and when water is heated or boiled dissolved gasses are released. Boiling water is as we noted earlier a way in which the free chlorine content in water is greatly reduced, the chlorine escaping into the air. When we have a hot shower or run a bath we can sometimes smell the chlorine released as it escapes from the hot water. 
In a confined shower recess, however, especially one with poor ventilation, the chlorine escapes from the water as we continue the hot shower and steadily increases in concentration in the air we breathe. The olfactory threshold for chlorine is about 3.5 PPM (parts per million) so when we can smell chlorine the concentration is already above this level. The lethal concentration for ten-minute exposure is about 600 PPM and we suggest that regularly taking hot showers with chlorinated water could pose a health risk.

the air we breathe

Chlorine causes pulmonary edema, and it would seem likely that regular exposure to chlorine gas even at low levels such as in normal showering may reduce the oxygen transfer capacity of the lungs. This could be a critical factor for athletes and for others prone to heart failure. 

Another aspect to be considered is our skin. Our skin is an important protective barrier for our bodies. When we shower with chlorinated water we are essentially exposing our skin to a relatively large volume of a dilute chlorine solution. Some of this chlorine reacts with the oils in the skin to form chlorinated compounds and it is these compounds which may then be absorbed by the body. It seems very likely, considering the strong oxidizing power of chlorine, that regular exposure to chlorinated water serves also to promote the aging process of the skin, not unlike extended exposure to sunlight. Moreover, chlorine may actually enhance the aging effects of ultraviolet radiation by reinforcing the process of cell deterioration.

chlorine destroys natural balance of the skin

Another skin factor is to be considered with the destruction by chlorine of the natural bacteria balance on our skin. Our skin has an ecology all of its own, which needs to be preserved in order to maintain healthy skin and its associated beauty.

chlorine reacts with the oils in the skin


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Chlorine - Why Not?

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