The History of a Chlorinated Water Supply and Should You Be Drinking It?

Every day, millions of people drink chlorinated tap water. When chlorine was first introduced to the water supply, it rapidly reduced the spread of disease and other water-borne ailments. Chlorine made it easier for cities and towns to purify drinking water and to keep their residents safe.

Now, however, it seems like these advancements have come at a price. According to a report from the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality, the cancer risk for people who drink chlorinated water is up to 93% higher than for those whose water does not contain chlorine.

While we recognize and applaud the benefits chlorine has brought to us, it’s time we also protect ourselves from the harms of drinking chlorine – which is a pretty easy thing to do for your health and the health of your family.

Why is chlorine added to water?

The idea of adding chlorine to public drinking systems first gained traction around the end of the 19th century. People had long battled a variety of diseases that were spread through water, including cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. When scientists recognized that adding chlorine in small amounts to drinking water could kill bacteria and microbes in the public water system and help slow or even stop the spread of these water-borne diseases, the idea of adding chlorine to water supplies quickly became popular.

In 1897, Maidstone, England was the first town to have its water supply entirely treated with chlorine. Soon after, the practice spread to the United States, finding its place in local water systems and even gaining popularity in the U.S. military.

Today, chlorination is the most common water treatment method worldwide, particularly in the U.S.

What are the harmful effects of chlorine for you and your family?

The shadow side of chlorinated water is becoming more apparent all the time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans now are consuming 300-600 times the amount of chlorine that is safe to ingest.

Why is chlorine in drinking water dangerous? When chlorine mixes with even minute amounts of organic compounds that are often found in water, harmful by-products called Trihalomethanes (THMs) are produced. These by-products produce free radicals in the body which are highly carcinogenic, even in small amounts, and trigger cell damage.

As scientists have looked into the potentially dangerous effects of chlorine, use of the chemical has been linked to a wide range of various cancers, reproductive problems, problems with the immune system, and heart attacks.

Here is some of the research showing the harmful effects of consuming chlorinated water:

  • The population of Roseto, Pennsylvania, after changing from drinking mountain spring water to chlorinated tap water, saw an increase in heart attacks with no other changes to their diets.
  • According to research published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the by-products of chlorine are associated with an increased risk of bladder and rectal cancers. A study which analyzed thousands of cancer deaths in the U.S. found that drinking chlorinated water appears to increase the risk of gastrointestinal cancer over a person’s lifetime by 50-100%.
  • A 2008 study based on an analysis of nearly 400,000 infants in Taiwan found that pregnant women drinking water disinfected by chlorine increased the risk of having children with heart problems, cleft palate, or major brain defects.
  • According to a survey published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, chlorophenols, or byproducts of water chlorination, could be to blame for the rise in food allergies in the western world.

How chlorine harms your gut

The problems with chlorine stem from the very reason it’s so useful – when chlorine is introduced into water, it kills pathogenic bacteria. But when it’s introduced into the human body, it destroys our beneficial gut bacteria, where an estimated 70% of our immune system operates.

Recent research increasingly points us towards the great importance of healthy and flourishing gut bacteria. Scientists have found a connection between a lack of these valuable microbes in our digestive system and the presence of a wide range of diseases — including obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and certain autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and asthma, and even autism.

In addition to these diseases, poor gut health can lead to conditions such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.

How can you protect yourself and your family now?

Chlorine plays an important role in protecting water from harmful pathogens, but when it isn’t filtered out, it can also do real harm to your health.

For 19 years, Coastal Carolina Water has been working with homeowners, home builders and businesses throughout North Carolina and Virginia to solve multiple water-related problems. With our 100% water quality guarantee, Coastal Carolina Water will provide the best water available to you and your home or business!

If you want to remove chlorine from your water, we at Coastal Carolina Water can help. Contact us at 252-491-8333 to learn more about your chlorine removal options.