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WHY WORRY ABOUT CHLORINE?

Many people wonder why they should bother removing chlorine from the water used in their homes. After all, isn't it a good thing? The simple answer is that chlorine is a quick and easy way to kill bacteria, fungus and other microorganisms, some of which can cause disease and illness. However, as with most quick fixes, such as many prescription drugs, we find that the side effects outweigh the benefits. Here are a few of the more important reasons that removing chlorine from bath and shower water is essential to ones health and physical appearance, as well as the over-all environment.

Chlorine is an inorganic substance that chemically bonds with protein. This bonding often results in dry, brittle, dull looking hair and/or flaky, itchy skin. Efforts at relieving such uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing conditions involve the use of a wide range of remedies, such as special shampoos, conditioners, lotions, salves and moisturizing creams. Though these may bring temporary relief, the symptoms are likely to continue as long as chlorinated water is used.

Chlorine can trigger a variety of reactions in children, the elderly, and people with chlorine-sensitivity. Though many people are aware of studies that show it is best to avoid drinking chlorinated water, they often overlook the problems associated with dermal absorption. Bathing in chlorine can have the same effect as drinking it. In fact, chlorine levels found in the tap water of some American cities is so high that taking 3 showers a day would put one above the minimum government standard for safe exposure. When water is heated and used in the shower or bath, free chlorine gasses are released in the confined bath or shower space. Chlorine is then being inhaled as well as absorbed through the skin.

Healthy glowing skin depends on a delicate ecological balance of natural bacteria and a very thin layer of non-greasy oils, called lipids. Chlorine disrupts this natural balance and reacts with lipids to form chlorinated compounds. These compounds, when absorbed by the body, can promote the aging process of the skin. Some researchers believe chlorine may actually accelerate the aging effects of ultraviolet radiation.

In their book, "One Hundred Years Of Water Chlorination", chemist John Ashton and Dr. Ronald Laura suggest that since chlorine has been shown to cause pulmonary edema, "it would seem likely that regular exposure to chlorine gas even at low levels such as in normal showering may reduce the oxygen transfer capacity of the lungs. This could be a critical factor for athletes and for others prone to heart failure."

Chlorine is one of the five electronegative elements known to damage enzymes.

Chlorine potentiates magnesium deficiency, which over time can manifest as a variety of symptoms including high blood pressure, chemical sensitivity and in rare cases, sudden death. Chlorine also decreases the absorption rate and increases the excretion of calcium and phosphorus. This increased loss of calcium is thought to promote osteoporosis.

Chlorine not only contributes to hypertension, but also cancers of the pancreas, colon, and bladder. In addition, it has been linked to heart attacks, diabetes and kidney stones. A study reported in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that people who regularly drink tap water containing high levels of chlorine by-products have a greater risk of developing bladder and rectal cancers than people who drink non-chlorinated water. This study estimates that about 9 percent of all bladder cancer and 18 percent of all rectal cancer cases are associated with long-term consumption of these by-products. This amounts to over 20,000 new cases each year.

Using a new technique called "meta-analysis", Robert Morris, along with epidemiologist Thomas C. Chalmers and his colleagues at Harvard, found that people drinking chlorinated water over long periods have a 21% increase in the risk of contracting bladder cancer and a 38% increase in the risk of rectal cancer.

Many of nature's most valuable and essential anti-cancer and anti-disease phytochemical nutrients are commonly found in food. Yet many foods have been discovered to form deadly cancer causing substances when consumed or combined with chlorinated tap water! This discovery includes soy, fruits, vegetables, tea, and many health products; even some vitamins.

For many years doctors in Norway, Canada and the United States have been reporting higher levels of birth defects in areas where chlorine is used, compared with drinking water treated by alternative methods. A Norwegian study of 141,000 births over three years found a 14 per cent increased risk of birth defects in areas with chlorinated water, including spina bifida and stillbirths.

Dire as these disturbing details may be, authors such as Ezra Speaks are quick to point out they are merely the tip of the iceburg. The long term consequences surrounding the unbridled use of chlorine are only now becoming evident. Joseph M. Price, MD, believes that the present epidemic of heart disease, cancer and senility began with "chlorinating our drinking water." In Moseby's Medical Dictionary Dr. Price says, "Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. It is an insidious poison."

The question any sane person must ask is "Why would I want expose myself and my loved ones to this risk?" Sadly, most of us are unaware of the potential health and environmental hazards associated with chlorine. After all, our world is awash with chlorine; the number of products touting its benefits seems to steadily increase each year.

You may not be able to control the amount of chlorine used by state or local institutions and municipalities, or even your friends and neighbors. But it is important to protect your health not only by drinking pure water, but also by bathing or showering in water without chlorine.

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