According to a nationwide survey, more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette. Its true, well, it WAS true – back in the 1940's.
Three independent research organizations conducted a nationwide poll with doctors, surgeons, and specialists in every branch of medicine. 113,597 doctors in all participated in this poll. The brand of cigarette the doctors named most often was Camel.
Of course this type of advertising disappeared soon afterwards and has (thankfully) not been seen since. But really, it does go to show how far we've come from the days when something as harmful as cigarettes was being recommended by health authorities.
So why bring this up? Well, it appears that we're still in that era when it comes to something else – chlorinated drinking water. Health Canada has released reports on chlorinated water, and there's just no way that anyone in a good state of mind would suggest that drinking, showering, bathing or doing anything with chlorine would be beneficial – any more than taking a puff on a cigarette.
The analogy goes a step further if you think about exposure. I would not go so far as to suggest that smoking a single cigarette would give someone cancer, nor would I suggest health problems would result from drinking a single glass of chlorinated tap water, or showering, bathing or inhaling chlorine while washing up.
It is, however, generally agreed that smoking with any sort of regularity increases the health risks, and at some point, most smokers end up with at least one symptom resulting from their habit. Likewise, continual chlorine exposure, over months and years, would also seem to increase the health risks.
According to Health Canada *, "… a recent study shown an increased risk of bladder and possibly colon cancer in people who drank chlorinated water for 35 years or more."
Some of these problems can take years to develop, and like exposure to anything, some people are more susceptible. Some people may develop rashes, skin irritations or eczema. Some people may develop one of the types of cancer that are now associated with chlorine exposure – some may not. Unfortunately, only time will tell which group any of us are in.
One thing is certain, however. These days, people are living longer, so along with increased life expectancy, comes increased exposure to these toxins and their potential cumulative effects.
Is it hard to avoid chlorine? Not really. The municipal water systems do their job of delivering water to us free of germs almost 100% of the time, by adding chlorine to the system. That gets it to our homes, but from there, just like removing the wrapper from food we buy at the store, we must remove the chlorine from the water before we use it.
There are several ways to accomplish this.
1. Since our greatest exposure is when we open the pores of our body's largest organ, the skin, and shower or bathe, this is a natural place to start. When chlorinated water is heated, chlorine moves into gas form, and also is present in the steam we breathe and absorb through our skin and into our lungs. One 10 minute shower allows your body to absorb more chlorine than you would consume drinking 8 glasses of tap water.
Adding shower filters to remove the chlorine at point of use is a great idea. These are relatively inexpensive and can remove more than 90% of the chlorine right there. As long as you regularly change the filters according to the manufacturer's recommendations, you are getting rid of a large portion of daily chlorine exposure.
2. Drinking or eating. This one may be tougher to avoid unless you have a whole-home or "Point of Entry" system for removing chlorine from your water. Low level exposure can occur when eating food that was prepared or washed with chlorinated water. Using filtered, reverse-osmosis processed water to prepare foods is another way to avoid this. Systems are reliably inexpensive and conveniently provide water for cleaning, cooking and preparing foods.
3. Washing Dishes. Again, when we're warming up chlorinated water, we're moving to a situation where it is more easily breathed in. This is a tougher place to treat. Really a Point of Entry system is what's called for here, as connecting drinking water systems to dishwashers, or using them to wash dishes by hand would require heating the treated water. A whole home system that removes chlorine from all the water in the home is the most practical way to eliminate this problem.
4. Stop using bleach and other harsh chemical products for general cleaning. While it's true that bleach is excellent at killing germs, it is not very friendly to our bodies. If you consider how tightly we seal our homes to conserve energy, when bleach and other cleaning products get into our home's air, there's usually no place to go except into our lungs. There are green products available that work just as well, yet are non-toxic and usually water-based. These are much healthier choices.
As you can see, it is not difficult to reduce or eliminate your exposure to chlorine at home. The first step is to arm yourself with knowledge. Do your research, and contact a professional to assist with getting rid of this toxic additive in your home.