You Probably Drink Chlorine in Your Water Every Day — But Is It Harmful?

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Source:  The Food Revolution Network/Ocean Robbins

Every day, millions of people drink chlorinated tap water.

Chlorine is used to keep our water clean by disinfecting it and killing germs. And it does a marvelous job at eliminating most pathogens from the water we drink.

But the use of this powerful chemical has a downside. According to a report from the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality, the cancer risk for people who drink chlorinated water is up to 93% higher than for those whose water does not contain chlorine.

When chlorine was first introduced to the water supply, it brought a rapid reduction in the spread of disease and other water-borne ailments. It made it easier for cities and towns to purify drinking water and to keep their residents safe.

Now, however, it seems like these advancements have come at a price. While we recognize and applaud the benefits chlorine has brought to us, it’s time we also protect ourselves from the harms of drinking chlorine – particularly because that turns out to be a pretty easy thing to do for your health and the health of your family.

Why is chlorine added to water?

The idea of adding chlorine to public drinking systems first gained traction around the end of the 19th century.

People had long battled a variety of ailments that were spread through water, including diseases such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. When scientists recognized that adding chlorine in small amounts to drinking water could kill bacteria and microbes in the public water system and help slow or even stop the spread of these water-borne diseases, the idea of adding chlorine to water supplies became popular quickly.

In 1897, Maidstone, England became the first town to have its water supply entirely treated with chlorine.

Soon after, the idea spread to the United States, finding its place in local water systems and even gaining popularity in the U.S. military.

Today, chlorination is the most common water treatment method worldwide, particularly in the U.S. where it’s used heavily.

What are the harmful effects of chlorine for you and your family?

The shadow side of chlorinated water is becoming more apparent all the time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans now are consuming 300-600 times the amount of chlorine that is safe to ingest.

Why is chlorine in drinking water dangerous? Because when chlorine mixes with even minute amounts of organic compounds that are very often found in water, harmful by-products, called Trihalomethanes (THMs) are produced. These by-products produce free radicals in the body, which trigger cell damage — and are highly carcinogenic, even in small amounts.

 

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Ocean Robbins is co-author of Voices of The Food Revolution, and serves as adjunct professor for Chapman University and CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 350,000+ member Food Revolution Network. He is also co-founder of Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) and author of Choices For Our Future and of The Power of Partnership.

 

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