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How many of you know the time it takes for a solvent to breach the outermost layer of the skin? Three researchers took the time and effort to find out just that. According to the results, they found that skin absorption contributed from 29 to 91 percent of the total dose, with an average of 64 percent.

The only talk we ever hear in regard to solvents and what the skin can absorb has always been surrounding industrial or job-related circumstances. No one ever talks about what people are exposed to in and out of the home. Oddly enough, numerous investigators have studied the workings of the skin and how it protects us from the penetration of solvents and contaminates since the mid-sixties.

After years of tests and research, they deduced that skin absorption of contaminants in municipal water has been highly underestimated and that drinking or ingesting municipal water may not represent the only or even primary route of exposure. Additionally, the absorption of contaminants through the skin to the body as a whole is not the only damage—it can also affect the skin itself.

Much More Than Just Water

So, what are these contaminants that may be in your municipal water system? Well, let’s start with chloroform (Trihalomethane or THM) and trichloroethylene (TCE) for starters. These two volatile and toxic chemicals have been estimated by The National Academy of Sciences to kill 200-1000 people each year from cancers just by drinking the water. If that isn’t enough to scare you, the real threat you should be concerned about in reference to these contaminates is more likely to be as air pollution. According to The American Chemical Society, “People are exposed to more potentially harmful indoor pollutants in home, office or car than outdoors.” What is more, studies by Doctor Julian Andelman, Professor of Water Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, uncovered the fact that less chemical exposure occurred from ingesting chlorine contaminated water than using it to wash clothes or take a shower. According to statistics, chlorine has been added to disinfect our municipal water supply for over a hundred years. Naturally, the amount of chlorine in your particular area would depend on the quality of your water supply, but even if there is no noticeable taste or smell, that does not necessarily mean that it is not present.

The Chlorine Gas-Chamber

Let’s talk about the simple act of taking a shower and what the ramifications are to you and your family. According to Doctor Andelman, his studies reveal that when the temperature of the water and chemical concentrations increase, and the diameter of the shower head hole decrease, the hazard increases. In fact, his test results show that hot showers (109F) can free up a large percentage of the toxic chemicals into the air. The bottom line is that Chlorine, TCE, chloroform and benzene are just a few of the toxins that are easily absorbed through your lungs and into the bloodstream. Additionally, both the heat of your shower and the large surface-to-volume ratio of the small drops of water intensify the vaporization.

Ramifications of Repeated Exposure to Chlorinated Water

At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the United States swim team declared that over one-fourth of its members experienced degrees of asthma. This prompted an immediate investigation by researchers into finding out what the cause might be. The study generated the following results. Chlorine, when mixed with organic substances (such as skin particles, hair follicles, water born bacteria, and even sweat and urine), develops into THMs (trihalomethanes). Unfortunately, the exposure to these chemicals was found to cause asthma. The good news is that once a person is removed from the exposure, symptoms were eventually relieved. One study by a Doctor Simone Carbonnelle, of the industrial toxicology and occupational medicine unit at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, studied children who were on swim teams or spent time at the pool on a daily basis. After just 15 minutes a day around the pool, the study found levels of lung tissue damage and was directly proportional to the amount of time each child spent around the pool. According to Doctor Carbonnelle, “the level of lung permeability would be the equivalent of what you would expect to see in a heavy smoker”.

Even more recent studies that have been conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency have revealed that the maximum risk of exposure may result from the inhalation of chlorinated water.

A study of notable importance was one done by two investigators from the California Department of Health—Kirsten Waller and Shanna Swann. They examined the records of 5, 144 pregnant women from the Santa Clara, Walnut Creek and Fontana areas. They uncovered a 15.7% higher chance of miscarriage among women who drank 5 or more glasses of chlorinated water per day. Along that same vein, a Canadian study from Dalhousie University reported that women who drink or bathe in water containing these chemical compounds increase their risk for stillbirths.

Remember when you finished swimming for the day, but hated the part where you suffered through the rough, brittle hair and dry, itchy skin? Well, that is what you are doing every day of you life when you shower or bathe in chlorinated and chemically treated water. What is more, the content of this article is only the tip of the iceberg. Why would you deliberately bathe or shower in toxins every morning or embark on a task to devastate your lungs and sinuses, aggravate you allergies, wreck you skin or—God forbid—increase your chances of aging and cancer?

What Can You Do About It?

Wake up, folks! You skin is the largest organ of your body. You warm it up with your shower, open up the pores making your skin function like a sponge. Consequently, You not only inhale the chlorine vapors, you also take them in through your skin, directly into your bloodstream. According to statistics, you take in, through your skin, more chlorine in a 10-minute shower than by drinking 8 glasses of the same water.

Showering and bathing in chemically treated water is a significant risk—BUT it is also one that you can do something about. Remember, it is up to you to protect yourself and your family. The best way to combat exposure is in your shower through the use of an inexpensive inline filter. Here are two places to check for either a shower filter or bath filter.

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