Saturday, 26 January 2008

chlorine dangers

In 1992, the American Medical Association published information that stated "nearly 28% of all cancer of the intestines and 18% of all cancer of the bladder were caused by the drinking of chlorinated water."

A surprising but growing concern is the effect that chlorine and other chemicals have on serotonin levels(could therefore cause depression). Recent research demonstrates that recalcitrant organochlorines may play a role in the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome. The chlorine emitted from showering and other household water use breaks down into free radicals that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease. Chlorinated water also contains hypochlorite, which increases levels of singlet oxygen in the body. Clearly it is vital to good health to filter as much chlorine from your home water system as possible.

Chlorine is one of the most reactive elements found in nature. It readily dissolves in water, where it combines with molecules of oxygen and hydrogen to form hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. Chlorination of water is achieved by adding chlorine gas directly to the water supply, or by adding the chemicals calcium hypochlorite or sodium chlorite, both of which are known as "free available chlorine".

Water utilities routinely disinfect drinking water to prevent microbial diseases, especially cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever. To date, the greatest contribution to the protection of public health in the United States has been the disinfection of public water supplies, yet chlorine itself has been shown to cause a number of health problems.
Two decades after the start of chlorinating our drinking water, the present epidemic of heart trouble and cancer began.

Potential Contribution to Heart Disease
The patent for chlorination was granted in 1888 to Dr. Albert R. Leeds, Professor of Chemistry at Steven's Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The next year, the first chlorination of a public water supply was attempted in Adrian, Michigan. It wasn't until 1908, however, that chlorination was used on a large scale, at Boonton Reservoir waterworks in Jersey City, New Jersey. By the 1940s, chlorination was widespread in the United States.

Concerns about chlorine and health began in the 1960s. In one study, an association was shown to exist between chlorination and heart disease, evidence that was, interestingly, discovered in Jersey City, the site of the first large-scale chlorination project. The severity of heart disease among people over the age of 50 correlated with the amount of chlorinated tap water they consumed. A statistically significant correlation demonstrated that those persons over 50 who did not suffer from heart disease drank mostly unchlorinated fluids such as bottled water, or boiled water (chlorine is released as a gas when boiled).

Dr. Joseph Price, author of Coronaries, Cholesterol, Chlorine, has stated that he believes chlorine is the cause of "an unprecedented disease epidemic which includes heart attacks and strokes ... Most medical researchers were led to believe it was safe, but now we are learning the hard way that all the time we thought we were preventing epidemics of one disease, we were creating another. Two decades after the start of chlorinating our drinking water in 1940, the present epidemic of heart trouble and cancer began."

Although numerous studies have been conducted in the attempt to discover how chlorine may be a factor in cancer, no research has determined specifically that chlorine is a responsible agent. (See, for example, T. Pate, R. H. Harris, S. S. Epstein, "Drinking Water and Cancer Mortality in Louisiana," Science Vol. 193, 1976, 55-57). But the relationship between heart disease and chlorinated water is well established-alas, even chickens and pigeons used in tests to determine the effects of chlorine showed evidence of either atherosclerosis of the aorta or obstruction of the circulatory system.

Removal of Chlorine from Showers
In confined spaces, such as a shower or bathroom, we can sometimes smell chlorine. Frequent exposure to chlorine gas even at the low levels found during normal activities such as showering may reduce the oxygen transfer capacity of the lungs.

When we shower, we also expose our skin to a large amount of diluted chlorine. It's likely, given the strong oxidizing power of chlorine, that regular exposure to chlorinated water will hasten the skin's aging process. Fortunately, over the last ten years, water filters have become more sophisticated and it is now possible to remove chlorine from your home shower.

Paul Caro, Water, McGraw Hill, 1993, passim.

R. Hugh Dunstan et al, "A Preliminary Investigation
of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons and Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome," The Medical Journal of Australia,
September 18, 1995; 163: 294-297.

Patrick Flanagan, Elixir of the Ageless: You Are What
You Drink, Flanagan Technologies, 1986.

Colin Ingram, The Drinking Water Book: A Complete
Guide to Safe Drinking Water, Berkeley, CA:Ten
Speed Press, 1991.

Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, Life Extension: A
Practical Scientific Approach, New York: Warner
Books, 1983; 260-261.

Sanetaka Shirahata et al, "Electrolyzed-Reduced
Water Scavenges Active Oxygen Species and
Protects DNA from Oxidative Damage," Biochemical
and Biophysical Research Communications, 234,
269-274, 1997 (Article NO. RC976622).

J.C. Steward, Drinking Water Hazards,
Envirographics, 1990.

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