Why you must filter your shower water
How dare I tell you what you MUST do!
Oh, but I’m doing it. Or at the very least, I’m making an *extremely* strong suggestion.
Why? Because chlorine is not to be messed around with!
Chlorinated water interacts with naturally occurring organic matter (like the organic matter found in our waste water) to form water disinfection byproducts, including trihalomethanes (THMs). Two primary THMs are chloroform and bromodichloromethane. According to the National Toxicology Program (Department of Health and Human Services), both of these nasties are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.”
According to Global Healing Center,
These chlorine byproducts trigger the production of free radicals in the body, causing cell damage, and are highly carcinogenic. The Environmental Defense Fund warns that, “Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States.”
This. Is. NUTS!
In addition to cancer, studies have also linked THMs from chlorinated water to a variety of reproductive issues, such as miscarriage, birth defects, and low birth weight. THMs can also damage the liver, weakening of the immune system and arteries. It is also suspected that chlorinated water kills beneficial intestinal flora, which plays an extremely important role in digestion, the immune system, and overall health.
The majority of our exposure to THMs is from showering and/or bathing.
Reminder: the skin is the body’s largest organ and absorbs 60% of whatever we put on it. This not only includes body lotions, soaps, and makeup, but also water and the chemicals in water.
In addition, steam contains up to 50 times more chemicals than liquid water since THMs vaporize much more quickly and at a lower temperature than water. Inhaling these chemicals is much more dangerous than drinking water since it goes directly into our blood stream, whereas ingested water (and the chemicals it contains) is partially filtered out by our kidneys and digestive system. These chemicals can also more easily penetrate our skin while showering and/or bathing since the heat opens our pores.
According to the National Toxicology Program,
The concentration of chloroform in the blood increased 2- to 7-fold after showering… Ingestion of drinking water caused little elevation in blood levels of chloroform; however, the use of hot water during showering, bathing, and hand washing of dishes caused significant peaks in chloroform blood concentrations.
The concentration of bromodichloromethane in the blood increased 3- to 4-fold after showering.
Chlorine vapors also greatly irritate the sensitive tissues and bronchial passages of the lungs, and are suspected to be a primary cause of asthma and bronchitis, especially in children.
The good news…
Is that chlorine can easily be removed from water with a filter, shower water filters are extremely easy to install, and even the most expensive options are under $100.
This is my lovely Berkey shower filter with massaging shower head. When I first got it, I was really nervous about installing it, especially since I’m a renter and was worried I’d break something (and start a flood and get kicked out on the streets and be left soaking wet and homeless). But nope. Turns out all I had to do was unscrew the existing shower head (lefty loosey) and screw on the Berkey (righty tighty). That easy. I could immediately smell the difference. I also notice that my skin is less dry/tight after showering.
If you’re looking for a shower head with a hose, check out this Aquasonic shower filter with handheld wand. Aquasana also carries a shower filter without a head, so if you have some fancy-schmancy special shower head, you can just attach it to this filter, which is awesome.
Sources and further reading
- Center for Disease Control, Disinfection By-Products and the Safe Water System
- National Toxicology Program (Department of Health and Human Services), Report on Carcinogens: Twelfth Edition (2011): Bromodichloromethane
- National Toxicology Program (Department of Health and Human Services), Report on Carcinogens: Twelfth Edition (2011): Chloroform
- EU European Commission, Recommendation from the Scientific Expert Group on Occupational Exposure Limits for Chloroform (.pdf)
- US National Library of Medicine, Chlorine Gas Inhalation
- Global Healing Center, Chlorine, Cancer, and Heart Disease
- Citizens Concerned about Chloramine, Chloramine Facts
Thank you so much for writing this! I am buying a shower water filter from Aqua Hygiene water filter company and I have noticed an immediate difference in my first shower with it!
I just installed the Aquasana filter and I noticed an immediate difference in my first shower with it! My skin was getting so dry and itchy after a shower and I immediately feel better! I want a whole home filter, but this was an inexpensive way to get a good result right now!
LOL no, they just don’t do their job as well! 🙂
Does the water stop flowing when the filters are used up? I fear having soap all over and suddenly no water.
I wanted to share a new product which I have ordered, the SONAKI SUF-300VTX VITAMAX VITAMIN C COMBO UNIVERSAL INLINE SHOWER FILTER.
After reading your post I looked into various shower filter medias, such as KDF, GAC and Vitamin C. After a lengthy research process looking at the pros and cons of each I found the new product mentioned above. It uses vitamin C to filter Chlorine and Chloramine, plus there is also a coconut shell activated carbon filter in place to deal with a ‘wider array of toxic nasties, such as pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, trihalomethanes, PCB’s and other similar halogenated organic compounds’.
I was excited to find it and couldn’t wait to share it with you and all the Body Unburdened followers. I have ordered one which is being shipped to me in the UK, coming from New York. I will give it a go and report back. Thank you for your blog, it’s changed my life in so many ways.
Lots of Love
Nic (Epsom, UK)
Chlorine and other water impurities can have a negative effect on the person’s health. It can cause dry skin, dandruff, and even allergies. The solution to this problem is getting a shower head water filter. The built-in filters will protect your health and provide fresher, cleaner and healthier water.
There are different options available that will suit different preferences.I have Culligan shower filter and I love it. Now I can see important changes on my hair .
Where do you buy the replacement cartridges for your Berkey?
We have a filter on ours and have never been happier! I would love a whole home filter one day, but we can’t afford it at the moment.
Getting a whole house filter has been on my list of things to do and this is just the push I needed to get it done!
Aquasana carries AMAZING whole house water filters http://bit.ly/1hxMr1F. This one of the things I most look forward to about being a home-owner!!
How can I filter water for my entire home? So I don’t have to purchase an individual filter for each water source? Is there something I can have added straight from the water source?
This is such an important topic! Thank you so much for writing this! I am buying a shower water filter first thing tomorrow!