Chlorine is a well-known chemical widely used for many purposes, ranging from maintenance of swimming pools to the manufacture of bulletproof vests and plane seats. Moreover, chlorine is used as a disinfectant in drinking water, though this function has been met with controversies.
Although it is regarded as an effective water purifier, chlorine is a stinky chemical with a burning and drying effect on the human skin. This raises concerns among people, prompting them to seek ways of getting rid of this potentially deadly chemical from their drinking water.
Thus, this reason discusses the adverse effects of chlorine in drinking water and proposes possible ways of removing the chemical from water.
How Dangerous Is Chlorine in My Drinking Water?
Chlorine is a chemical with many industrial purposes besides keeping swimming pools bright and clean. For instance, it is a pesticide, food preserver, and used in construction, energy, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. Chlorine is a naturally occurring chemical element existing in a green gaseous state.
However, the developments in science have enabled companies to literarily transform chlorine’s appearance and form to harness its limitless power. Despite these developments, chlorine remains unsafe for use in drinking water.
Those who swim in pools treated with chlorine will admit that this chemical is unfairly blamed for causing burning effects in their eyes, as well as irritating their skin. However, science has proven that this only happens when the chlorine reacts with urine in the swimming pool.
This is arguably the reason chlorine is added to drinking water as a disinfectant. The chemical destroys the bacteria and germs found in the water more effectively than other chemicals. However, this does not dispute the fact that chlorine remains toxic and dangerous to one’s health when not handled with care.
Harmful Effects of Chlorine in Drinking Water
Chlorine is widely considered among the best alternatives for use as a disinfectant in drinking water. This means the chemical is generally accepted as a water purifier in many households.
However, there are other effects of chlorine on your health, some of which could be potentially irreversible if no immediate medical interventions are implemented in time. Some of these adverse effects are discussed in the following section.
Increases the risk of cancer
Scientific studies have shown that increased exposure or consumption of chlorinated water raises the probability of contracting bladder cancer. Besides, several studies link the incidences of colorectal cancer to overconsumption of chlorinated water.
The risk of contracting cancer can be increased when people use the by-products resulting from chlorine disinfection processes. For instance, by-products such as Haloacetic acids (HAAs) and Trihalomethane (THMs) play a crucial role as cancer causative agents in lab animals.
According to scientific research, the by-products linked to cancer usually cause the carcinogenic damage of body cells, resulting in increased chances of suffering from cancer.
Harmful to children’s health
Several studies provide proof that long-term exposure to or consumption of chlorinated water could be hazardous to children’s health. Notably, the chemicals in the water treated with chlorine put children whose airways have not sufficiently improved at a higher risk of experiencing asthmatic attacks.
Certain studies revealed that when rodents were exposed to chlorine and chloramines, their kidneys and intestines developed tumors after some time. This is a clear indication that chlorinated water would cause irritations and burning effects on human skin due to long-term exposure or consumption.
Gut problems and food allergies
Chlorine is a chemical good at destroying bacteria and other germs in water, though this may extend to your gut system. The human gut system is home to certain good bacteria that enhance the digestion of food.
Therefore, continued consumption of chlorinated water puts one at risk of their essential gut bacteria being destroyed, resulting in the growth of a colonic tumor.
Furthermore, studies on Immunology, Allergy, and Asthma show that chlorinated water consumption results in food allergies. Although these reports are still debatable, it suffices to argue that the allergies are caused by chlorine in the gut system.
Chlorine is toxic and causes cell damage
Since chlorine is used as a pesticide, its primary function is to destroy or kill the cells in living organisms. This is seen when the chemical is used to kill bacteria and other germs. The carcinogenic characteristic of chlorine means that when humans drink chlorinated water for long, the cells in the body are damaged over time, an effect that spreads to vital body tissues.
Moreover, chlorine’s toxic nature made it a valuable weapon in wars, including World War I and the war in Iraq and Syria. It is undeniable that when chlorine is inhaled, it turns out to be a life-threatening hydrochloric acid.
Heart problems and congenital disabilities
The cardio-vascular system could develop health complications with excessive exposure to or overconsumption of chlorinated water. Serious health concerns are likely to erupt in people who continually drink chlorinated water, such as shivering, crippled metabolism, poor blood circulation, and general health emaciation.
Besides, consuming chlorinated water has been linked with increased congenital disabilities, according to a Taiwan-based investigation. The studies further found that when a pregnant woman consumes chlorinated water for a long, the fetus may suffer from brain and heart dysfunction, while the mother could develop cleft palates.
How to Remove Chlorine from Drinking Water
A keen analysis of the adverse effects of chlorine in drinking water would prompt one to seek ways of enhancing the purity of water by eliminating the chlorine contents. Various methods can be used to remove chlorine from drinking water, such as those discussed below:
Water can be filtered using reverse osmosis, which effectively removes toxins and impurities from drinking water. This process is commonly applied in many water filtration systems, in which water is forced through a membrane specially designed to sieve contaminants and separate them from water.
Reverse osmosis is generally carried out in industries to purify water, though you can purchase and use the RO systems to filter your drinking water at home. The advantage of the reverse osmosis process is that it literarily eliminates all the pollutants from water, making it safe for drinking without the worries of contracting the many health complications.
The high volatility of chlorine makes it vaporize quite quickly. This means the most cost-effective way of removing chlorine from your drinking water is by leaving the water for a while.
The chlorine will evaporate, leaving your water safe for drinking, though you may have to be more patient for this to work for you. Since the chlorine element is naturally gaseous, it vaporizes faster when the water becomes warmer above room temperature.
This means it might take nearly 24 hours for a complete vaporization process when you leave your water in the fridge in an open container.
Using chemicals to remove chlorine from drinking water may seem ironic and unrealistic in the first place, but it is an effective way of getting rid of chlorine elements from drinking water. The method involves dissolving the Potassium Metabisulfite tablet in the water, which then neutralizes the chlorine and vaporizes away.
This method is widely used in wineries and breweries to neutralize and evaporate chloramine and chlorine from water, leaving it safe for human consumption. Chemical water purification is quite an effective method in that a single tablet of Potassium Metabisulfite can purify more than 18 gallons of chlorinated water.
Using UV light
Although it is not as popular as the water purification method, UV light is a powerful purifier of chlorinated water. The only challenge may be accessing the source of UV light, which may be the primary reason this method is unpopular.
UV light effectively eliminates chloramine and chlorine contents from drinking water and leaves no side effects associated with chemical purification or water filtration.
This is because chlorine is highly sensitive to UV light, which breaks down and destroys all chlorine chemical traces. However, besides being costly to acquire, extended exposure to UV light may result in skin complications.
Boiling drinking water
Boiling water is another cost-effective method of dechlorinating your drinking water when all other methods seem out of reach or not applicable.
As the water becomes warmed up, the chlorine will automatically vaporize away, though you have to leave the water for at least 20 minutes. The method can be used with no expenses financially and requires little to no effort on your side.
Chlorine is a chemical with both advantages and adversities depending on how it is used or handled. On the one hand, it can be beneficial when used as a pesticide or in manufacturing, construction, and healthcare industries.
On the other hand, long exposure or overconsumption of chlorinated water may result in health adversities, as discussed in this article. As a result, care should be exercised when handling this potentially deadly chemical.
Various methods can be used to purify chlorinated water to render it safe for human consumption. Although most of these may require spending some money, you can start with the simplest techniques, such as vaporization or boiling your water, before considering it safe for drinking. This ensures the health and safety of your family and loved ones.