Understanding Chlorine and Its Effects on Health


Water is an essential part of our lives, mostly the tap water which comes to our homes. Aside from daily consumption, we use tap water for bathing, washing, and cleaning. But according to https://www.ine.pt/ine_novidades/Estatisticas_Ambiente_2010/files/assets/seo/page16.html, more people became concerned about water quality because lower-profile contaminants in drinking water, such as chlorine, might be an issue too. Is drinking chlorine hazardous? Drinking water with chlorine will not hurt you immediately, but it may have long-term health effects. Below, we’ll discuss the overview of chlorine ingestion and its immediate results on our health. 

Why Is There Chlorine in Water?

Chlorinated water is nothing new. It’s been around since the early 1900s and arose as a medical breakthrough. At the time, waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, and hepatitis were taking thousands of Americans’ lives.


Water distributors turned to chlorine to combat the devastation, which reduced the harmful bacteria causing these illnesses. After much success in these efforts, chlorine continues to provide an affordable and sizable solution to disinfecting water supplies around the nation. So, how does chlorine disinfect the water? It attacks the cell membrane of harmful bacteria. In turn, chlorine suspends cell respiration and DNA activity – both of which are required for bacteria’s survival. When water first enters a treatment facility, chlorine can help eliminate aquatic life like algae and weaken iron and magnesium elements. At the end of the process, chlorine helps to disinfect the water and ensure enough chlorine is present to survive throughout the distribution process. 

Is Chlorine in My Drinking Water Dangerous?

woman waterPeople started adding contaminants to water back in the 19th century when they realized its antimicrobial properties. When water was untreated, it was common for people to contract diseases like cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. The initial introduction of chlorine as a disinfectant helped reduce the disease rate and keep city-dwellers safe. We know there are other fighting germs in water, such as the use of ultraviolet light (commonly used by homeowners with hot water).


However, chlorine therapy is still the most cost-effective alternative for large-scale treatment, so the habit of municipalities using chlorine to kill germs persists. Although diluted chlorine is not toxic, it can have harmful consequences, which we will discuss later. Besides, chlorine treatment does not guarantee that drinking water is free of harmful germs; some may develop immunity to chlorine treatment.

What Is the Danger of Chlorine in My Tap Water?

Ingesting chlorine with tap water can have many negative health consequences. Many of the effects occur because chlorine forms trihalomethanes. Like chloroform, trihalomethanes (THMs) are formed when chlorine reacts with small, naturally occurring particles in water. These chemical compounds are associated with some adverse health effects. Below are some of the possible harmful effects of chlorine:

Asthma: When you wash or shower in chlorinated water, you absorb the chlorine through your skin and inhale the hot steam. If you have respiratory problems, breathing in the contaminant can make your symptoms worse.

Food allergies: A recent study looked at the effects of dichlorophenols, which can be used in pesticides and hot water chlorination. The analysis found that participants who had the highest amount of dichlorophenols in their bodies were much more likely to have the highest amount of food allergies. However, this analysis focused on dichlorophenols in pesticides, perhaps not chlorinated water, although the effects may be similar.

Congenital disabilities: A study of nearly 400,000 people found that girls exposed to trihalomethanes in chlorinated water during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to babies with one of three different congenital disabilities: cleft palate, ventricular septal defects – or even holes in the middle – and lack of brain growth.

Rectal and pancreatic cancers: A 1995 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives linked THM compounds in chlorinated water to rectal and bladder cancers, possibly responsible for 8,000 rectal cancer cases and 5,000 cases of lung cancer in the United States each year. Some subsequent studies have found a small link between chlorine and harmful effects, but other studies have found no association. More studies must be done on this topic.