Chlorine in Drinking Tap Water: Would you drink water from a Swimming Pool?

There could be more chlorine in Your Tap Water than in your swimming pool.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows a higher level of chlorine in tap water (4 parts per million/ppm) than the recommended chlorine levels for public swimming pools (1-3 ppm). In other words, tap water may have more chlorine than your local swimming pool. Would you drink Water from your swimming pool? If the answer is no, then obviously you wouldn’t drink water from your faucet, which has more chlorine than in a swimming pool.

To protect drinking water from disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, water suppliers often add a disinfectant, such as chlorine, to drinking tap water.  However, addition of chlorine in tap water can be complicated because some microbial pathogens are resistant and the worst part is treatment with chlorine can react with naturally-occurring materials in the water to form byproducts which may pose health risks ranging from asthma and eczema to bladder cancer and heart disease.

Interestingly enough, the EPA Recommended amount of Chlorine in water exceeds the recommended safe amount for human consumption.

A recent report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group concluded that from 1996 though 2001, more than 16 million Americans consumed dangerous amounts of contaminated tap water. Water supplies in and near Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and the Bay Area in California were putting the greatest number of people at risk, although 1,100 other smaller water systems across the country also tested positive for high levels of contaminants.

Water systems across the country are changing the way they disinfect drinking water because the traditional disinfectant, chlorine, can leave behind toxic chemicals.

A Glass of water with most common type chlorine can be left in an open container in the fridge (cold air) for 24 hours to reduce the effect of chlorine in the water. However, the time and clearing depends on the container (larger amounts of water require larger time open); also, pathogens tend to develop in the dark, and since the refrigerators are dark then the water you put in the fridge may not be clean by the time you drink it. The chlorine in the water, if left in the fridge will become gas, and spread into other foods in the fridge. The solution to Chlorine is a water Distiller with a Charcoal filter, which is available in most retailed Water distillers in the US and Europe.

Recently, in the last 30 yrs, Chlorine has slowly been replaced by Chloramine in about 20% of the country. However, a recent investigation conducted by NPR found that at the beginning, scientists knew only that chloramine didn’t produce the same byproducts chlorine did but eventually they learned that it could produce damaging byproducts of its own, and scientists discovered this after the Chloramine had already been used by millions of people across the nation.

In Washington DC, the switch from Chlorine to Chloramine became a major problem. Since most of the pipes across the US are old, Chlorine helped the prevent the Lead from the pipes from leaching into the water; Chloramine did not provide the same level of protection. All of a sudden, drinking tap water had a very high –lethal- level of lead. So, if you don’t get sick from Chlorine, or Chloramine, or any of it’s byproducts, you may still get sick simply from the bad quality of the old pipes.

What’s worse, during rainstorms or heavy usage of water, local governments add more chlorine to the water distribution system without fully knowing what the end result is, which may cause further damages to human health. Drinking water with Chlorine is not only a potential danger to humans, simply smelling it or showering in it can cause respiratory and skin problems. Consumption of chlorinated tap water by pregnant women has been linked with miscarriages, birth defects, heart problems, etc.

The government is unfortunately reactive, i.e. when there are problems in the water, the government is too late to found out, and it is too late to fix it. Sometimes the mistake is done over several years, causing cancer, but because it happens over several years, nobody can clearly blame the water supply. Sometimes the effects are instantaneous, such as was the case in Washington DC. In fact, the law says if too much chlorine is knowingly poured into the water system then the public needs to be notified within 30 days, which is too late! The damage would already have been done!

The safest thing to do is to install a water purification system in your house, such as a distilled water  through water distiller or a reverse osmosis system, which both systems use multistage purification which ensures removal of VOC (Volatile Organic Contaminants) along with other contaminants by creating pure water close to 100% pure. Some cheaper water filtration systems also remove specifically Chlorine, as long as the filters include a charcoal filter, but do not create the pure quality of water comparable to Distilled Water – Distilled Water is the top water purification system.

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Last updated: October 20, 2014 at 0:59 am