Chlorine in our Drinking Water


To protect our drinking water against germs and disease transmitted through water, disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, ozone and chlorine dioxide are commonly used. Actually, for more than 90 years, Chlorine has played a significant role in this order of protection. However, during these years, segments of the scientific, regulatory, and public communities have raised concerns over what should be considered safe and acceptable usage levels in our water.
As part of the sanitation process for sewage and industrial waste, Chlorine acts as a disinfectant, killing microorganisms that can cause serious diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever. This chemical has played a key role in the history of water by virtually eliminating water borne diseases and allowing populations around the world to flourish. Given the nature of the chemical, chlorine is easy to apply and small amounts will continue to be effective from the water treatment plant all the way to the faucet tap. This is an important attribute that distinguishes it from other forms of treatments, as Chlorine will address risks in the water distribution network where a potential for contamination exists.

Concerns over chlorine stem from the way in which the chemical reacts with organic plant matter naturally present in water as well as reactions with saliva and stomach content when ingested. These chemical reactions result in a group of chemicals known as disinfection byproducts. Some may be familiar with one of the most notorious byproducts called trihalomethanes (THMs). This byproduct category consists of four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dribromochloromethane, and bromoform. Scientific evidence classifies THM's as known carcinogens and continues to substantiate the link between low level consumption of THM's in drinking water and serious public health concerns.

In 1980, the EPA adopted new regulations requiring cities to reduce chlorination by-products (THM's) in the water to less than 100 parts per billion. This was later reduced by the EPA to 80 ppb. Scientific data suggests that the benefits of chlorinating our water far outweigh the risks associated with THM's and other byproducts. While this is generally understood, an increasing number of questions are arising as to the safety of exposure to THM's on a daily basis over decades.

To address potential long term health hazards, the current solution seems to lie in removing THM's at the point of use. The simplest method of reducing chlorination by-products is by putting water in a jug and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight. THM's can also be reduced through boiling water or aerating drinking water in a blender. However, these are unrealistic options for the everyday on-the-go person. Home water filtration is a best fit, and one of the most effective methods for reducing THM's is through carbon water filters such as Berkey. More recently, Ceramic Filters have affixed an additional layer of filtering protection against potential THM's.

The Thirsty Berkey - For the Love of Clean Water

Berkey Water Filters

Dan DeBaun writes and reports on "all things" water and how it relates to our health. To learn more, please visit his blog at Berkey Water Filters Blog

About the Author: