As it turns out, water treatment facilities may get rid of the infectious bugs in everyday tap water. However, in their place they leave behind harmful chemicals that can slowly cause the breakdown of respiratory health, gut integrity, and the immune system.

The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has determined that the toxic exposure to compounds in water is greater during a shower than from drinking the same water.

These harmful toxins are the byproducts of disinfectants that public water facilities use to clean water. The most commonly used disinfectants are: 

  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Chlorine dioxide

While these disinfectants keep disease-causing microorganisms at bay, they also produce harmful byproducts. These byproducts, called disinfection byproducts (DBPs), can be one thousand times more toxic than chlorine!

Unfortunately, whenever we use tap water, we are absorbing these chemicals. This happens through:

  • The gut (when drinking or cooking with tap water)
  • The skin (through contact with tap water)
  • The lungs (as vapors that we inhale)

We Are All Affected by Disinfection Byproducts

Public water treatment facilities all use disinfectants in order to make tap water safe to drink. These disinfectants kill viruses, parasites, and disease-causing bacteria. Without water treatment facilities, we would all be at greater risk for infectious disease.

An innocent glass of tap water could expose you to countless disinfectants used to make water safe to drink. These disinfectants produce harmful byproducts that can be one thousand times more toxic when ingested!

While these disinfectants keep us safe from infectious disease, they also expose us to environmental stress. This environmental stress comes in the form of toxic compounds that contribute to the full spectrum of chronic disease.

As we mentioned earlier, chlorine is one of the most common disinfectants used. Another is chloramine.

Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Although it is referred to as monochloramine, chloramine is actually found in three different forms:

  1. Monochloramine
  2. Dichloramine
  3. Trichloramine

Depending on the temperature, turbulence, and pH of the water, these chloramines rapidly change into one another.

All chloramines are respiratory irritants. The most toxic form of chloramine is trichloramine.

Not only do the chloramines become toxic when they change form, but, like chlorine, chloramine can react with decaying plant matter in water and produce a toxin. In the case of chlorine, these byproducts are:

  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)
  • Haloacetic acids (HAAs)

While trihalomethanes (THMs) are also formed when chloramine is used as a disinfectant, the concentration is roughly one third less than chlorine. In 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed rumors that THMs are carcinogenic with a three year long study.

Chloramine and Its Byproducts Are Even More Toxic When Inhaled

Drinking water is not the only way you can absorb toxic disinfection byproducts. You can inhale them too.

Chloramine vapors and its DBPs can accumulate inside the home. When this happens, we end up breathing air that carries concentrates of DBPs. For example, enclosed areas such as a shower stall, small bathroom, kitchen, or apartment are all places where DBPs levels in the air can build to toxic proportions.

Chloramine fumes can cause things like:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma

According to one study, researchers saw an increase in deaths from the flu and pneumonia in populations using chloramine, rather than chlorine, as a disinfectant. This is because chloramine vapors can damage the lungs, making the body more susceptible to infection and allergens.

One Belgium study found an increase in asthma in school children that had been exposed to disinfected swimming pools. Chloramine damages mucus membranes, and it has been found that the lung damage in those exposed to chloramine vapors in indoor pool air is similar to that seen in regular smokers.

When we inhale chloraminated vapor, the toxic compounds enter the bloodstream directly through the lungs. This mechanism bypasses the digestive tract, where much of the toxicity can be neutralized.

When chloramines bind with red blood cells, the hemoglobin in red blood cells is no longer able to carry oxygen.

In fact, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has determined that the toxic exposure to compounds in water is greater during a shower than from drinking the same water.

Your Healthiest Options for Clean Water

Even though removing chlorine from water is far easier than removing chloramine, water suppliers are increasingly turning toward chloramine as a disinfectant. This is because chlorine and its byproducts have been studied longer than chloramine, and we know about its harmful side effects. Like, for example, the definite link that was found between trihalomethanes (THMs) and cancer.

So what can you do?

The best way to avoid chloramine and its byproducts is to install a filter to purify your drinking water. A water filter can eliminate virtually all of the drugs and DBPs.

In order to also protect your lungs and skin and to ensure that activities like showering and bathing are safe, a whole house filtration system is necessary to remove chloramine and ammonia from tap water.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Water treatment facilities are used to rid tap water of infectious bugs, but they can leave a range of harmful chemicals behind that can affect respiratory health, digestive health, and even the immune system.

When we encounter tap water by drinking, showering, or inhaling vapors, we risk exposure to common disinfectants like chlorine, chloramine, and chlorine dioxide. These disinfectants make tap water safe to drink, but they expose each of us to environmental stress from toxic compounds.

Specifically, the disinfectant chloramine and its byproducts become even more toxic when inhaled in an enclosed area at home, like the shower, bathroom, or kitchen. This inhalation could lead to long term damage of the mucous membranes, similar to what is seen in regular smokers!

To keep your family safe from harmful chemicals found in tap water, it's critical to install a whole water filtration system to purify not only your drinking water but also water used for showering and bathing to protect your lungs and skin.

Want more articles like this?

Sign up to receive weekly articles. You'll also receive a 15% off coupon, weekly articles, and tips from Donna and her team.

I'm most interested in: