Shower Water Toxicity By Monte Kline, Ph.D.

You get more toxic exposure from taking a shower than from drinking the same water.
So reported Science News about a recent study by a major U.S. university.  Possibly one of the most significant risks to your health is not about what you put in your body by way of food and water, but what you put on your body by bathing in chlorinated water.  The skin is the body’s largest organ and easily absorbs contaminants, which pass through it to the blood stream.  Therefore, whatever you put on your skin ends up in your body.  (a Nicotine patch would be a good example of this)

Health and Longevity in August 1994 reported:
The skin, the body’s largest organ, can easily absorb contaminants found in water which pass through it into the bloodstream.  The experts are just beginning to understand the potential health hazards from skin absorption of water contaminants.


So what is chlorine, and what can it do to us? The dictionary defines chlorine as a “gaseous greenish-yellow element used as a bleaching and disinfecting agent.”  Chlorination of drinking water began in the 1890’s to fight water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.  People stopped dying of typhoid and cholera, but they started dying of cancer and heart disease!

We all know chlorine kills harmful bacteria in water.  But its effect doesn’t stop there.  The problem is that not only is it absorbed through the skin, but it’s also vaporized and breathed into the lungs as well.  Some of the potential health issues include:

1.Respiratory Problems — Breathing chlorine vapor can worsen asthma, allergy, sinus, and emphysema conditions.  Short-term exposure can cause tearing of the eyes, coughing, sputum, bloody nose, and chest pain.  Higher levels can cause pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs) or even death.  Repeated exposure can cause lung irritation, bronchitis, phlegm, and shortness of breath.

Researchers at Boston University found that we absorb up to six times more volatile chemicals through our lungs and skin while bathing, than from drinking chlorinated water.

The Nader Report—Troubled Waters on Tap stated:

A professor of water chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh claims that exposure to vaporized chemicals in your shower and bath water is 100 times greater than through drinking the same water.

  1. Cancer — Chlorine in water can combine with organic contaminants to produce chloroform, a potent carcinogen. This may be at least in part why researchers have found that the chlorine taken in by bathing increases the risk of bladder and rectal cancers.U.S. News & World Report on July 29, 1991 noted:

Studies indicate that chlorine can also be inhaled and absorbed through the skin during showering and bathing.  Ironically, even the chlorine widely used to disinfect water produces carcinogenic traces.

Dr. Lance Wallace of the Environmental Protection Agency stated:

Showering is suspected as the primary cause of elevated levels of chloroform in nearly every home because of the chlorine in the water.
3.Heart Disease — Increased heart disease risk has been linked to both drinking and bathing in chlorinated water.  Chlorine is known to destroy Vitamin E in the body, which may be part of the reason for its adverse effect on the heart.

  1. Skin and Hair Problems — Bathing in chlorinated water is often irritating to the skin and scalp, particularly in individuals prone to greater allergic reactivity. Dr. Riddle of Kemysts Laboratory stated:

There is evidence that shows that chlorine can destroy protein in our body and cause adverse effects on skin and hair.
Chlorine bonds with and destroys proteins in your hair making  it dry and unmanageable.  Chlorinated bathing water can make your scalp dry, dandruff worse, and adversely affect chemically treated or tinted hair.  Skin and eyes may become dry and itchy.  Chlorine-water bathing can cause both dryness and itchiness to the skin and eyes.  Users of chlorine-removing shower filters report relief from itchy skin, rashes and other common skin problems.

  1. Free Radical Exposure — Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that readily combine with other substances to form harmful compounds. In effect, free radicals, are “oxygen sponges” that lower cellular oxygen. Because of this they have been associated with most degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.  Chlorine in shower water is one of the main sources of free radical exposure.
  2. Birth Defects — Perhaps due to its destruction of Vitamin E or some other effects, chlorine exposure has been linked to birth defects as well.
  3. Teeth Damage — Long term exposure to chlorine (like drinking or bathing in chlorinated water every day) can damage the teeth.


Someone using a chlorine-removing shower filter commented:
I don’t smell like a swimming pool anymore!
I couldn’t say it better.  To shower or bathe in chlorine water is like showering in a swimming pool.  Warm shower water opens up the pores in the skin, making your skin like a sponge.  Studies have shown that your body can absorb more chlorine in a ten minute shower than in drinking eight glasses of the same water!


So what’s the answer to chlorine exposure through bathing?  Simple, inexpensive shower filters are now available that remove chlorine, not to mention other contaminants.  One of the best type of filter uses a patented filtering media called KDF 55.  This is a zinc-copper alloy that looks like golden sand.  KDF 55 works best in hot water, which of course is the kind you’re bathing in.  It removes not only chlorine, but iron, arsenic, mercury, hydrogen sulfide, bacteria, algae, fungi, dirt and sediment.  For a filter to work properly, the chlorine-water has to be in contact with the KDF 55 filtering medium long enough.  For that reason water-saving shower heads are used that slow down the flow enough to get the job done.


What if you take baths rather than showers?  As long as your bath tub has a showerhead also, you can simply fill the bath water through the showerhead so the chlorine will be filtered out.  Since this will be slower than the bath tub faucet, I would suggest adjusting the water hotter than you really want it to allow for the temperature loss with the filling time.


KDF 55 shower filters last for about 12 months or about 15,000 gallons of water.
There are other filters that can last longer.


We live in an increasingly toxic world, as we get more and more man-made substances exposed to our bodies and less and less God-made substances.  My view is that wherever we can find a way to lower some toxic input into our body, we need to do it.  Chlorine shower filters are one such way.

For more great info on the benefits of shower filters click HERE