Rethinking Chlorinated Tap Water

by Dr. Zoltan P. Rona MD MSc

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Most people never give it a thought. After all, our elected public officials keep assuring us that chlorinated city tap water is completely safe for human consumption. Numerous scientific studies, however, report that chlorinated tap water is a skin irritant and can be associated with rashes like eczema.

Chlorinated water can destroy polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E in the body while generating toxins capable of free radical damage (oxidation). This might explain why supplementation of the diet with essential fatty acids like flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil and antioxidants like vitamin E, selenium and others helps so many cases of eczema and dry skin.

Chlorinated water destroys much of the intestinal flora, the friendly bacteria that help in the digestion of food and which protect the body from harmful pathogens. These bacteria are also responsible for the manufacture of several important vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin K. It is not uncommon for chronic digestive disorders as well as chronic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, seborrhea and eczema to clear up or be significantly improved by switching to unchlorinated drinking water and supplementing the diet with lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus.

Chlorinated water contains chemical compounds called trihalomethanes which are carcinogens resulting from the combination of chlorine with organic compounds in water. These chemicals, also known as organochlorides, do not degrade very well and are generally stored in the fatty tissues of the body (breast, other fatty areas, mothers' milk, blood and semen). Organochlorides can cause mutations by altering DNA, suppress immune system function and interfere with the natural controls of cell growth.

Chlorine has been documented to aggravate asthma, especially in those children who make frequent use of chlorinated swimming pools. Several studies also link chlorine and chlorinated by-products to a greater incidence of bladder, breast and bowel cancer as well as malignant melanoma. One study even links the use of chlorinated tap water to congenital cardiac anomalies.

Anything you can do to filter tap and shower water that eliminates or even minimizes chlorine would certainly be helpful and possibly curative for some immune system problems. The use of at source water filtration devices is increasingly popular and affordable. Discuss their use with your health care practitioner.

REFERENCES

Fackelmann, K.A., Hints of a chlorine-cancer connection. Science News, July 11, 1992;142:23.

Flaten, Trond Peter. Chlorination of drinking water and cancer incidence in Norway. International Journal of Epidemiology, 1992;21(1):6-15.

Messina, Virginia. Chlorine and cancer. Good Medicine, Winter 1994;8-9. Morris, Robert D. Chlorination, Chlorination by-products and cancer.

American Journal of Public Health, July 1992;82(7):955-963. Rothery, S.P., et al. Hazards of chlorine to asthmatic patients.

British Journal of General Practice, Jan, 1991;39. Shaw, Gary M., et al. Chlorinated water exposures and congenital cardiac anomalies. Epidemiology, November 1991;2(6):459-460.

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