Can taking a shower really be dangerous? It may come as a shock, but the very method most people use to keep their bodies clean could be exposing them to unforeseen health risks.
While many people are aware of the dangers of drinking unfiltered water, few consider the risks of showering in unfiltered water. Most people don’t realize that one can absorb up to 8 glasses of water through the skin during a quick 10-minute shower.
Soaking up water in this way is especially dangerous because the chlorine goes directly into your bloodstream. This means you absorb 6 times more chlorine per glass while showering than if you were drinking the same water.
The Dirty Truth About Your Shower Water
Research presented at the American Chemical Society in 1986 demonstrated that showering leads to greater exposure to toxic chemicals in tap water than drinking the water does.
The dangers and risks of chlorine exposure are serious — including, but not limited to…
Irritation of the eyes, sinuses, throat, and skin
- Aggravation of the lungs
- Excessive free radical formation, which results in accelerated aging
- Hardened arteries
- Difficulty metabolizing cholesterol
- Higher vulnerability to genetic mutation
- Development of cancer
In a recent article in The American Journal of Public Health, chlorine was linked to measurable increases in certain types of cancer. The article also reported that up to 2/3 of our harmful exposure to chlorine is through absorption by the skin during showering.
Even if you can’t detect the presence of chlorine in your water via smell or taste, that doesn’t mean you’re safe from the consequence of exposure. Chlorine exposure can be especially harmful for individuals with pre-existing conditions such as sinus conditions, allergies, skin rashes, emphysema and asthma.
The most current findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that virtually every home in America has a detectable level in the air of chloroform gas — a derivative of chlorine and a known carcinogen — due to chlorine and showering.
Anyone who showers regularly should be concerned about the dangers of chlorine exposure, but especially those who suffer from dry and irritated skin; damaged and brittle hair; flaky or itchy scalp; or redness and burning of the eyes.
Dr. John Andelman, Ph.D., says the dangers of exposure to chlorine during showers via absorption through the skin as well as inhalation cannot be overstated. Andelman is especially concerned with the high concentrations of chlorine and synthetic chemicals that can enter the body this way.
Experts used to believe that ingestion was the primary method of chlorine intake, but new studies show that inhalation and skin exposure intake are even higher. One of the most prevalent forms of chlorine taken in through inhalation is chloroform. Remember, chloroform is a carcinogen, and it’s also linked to excessive free radical formation, cell mutation, and the oxidation of cholesterol.
As Dr. Mercola explains, when we inhale chloroform, it goes directly into our bloodstreams without any kind of preliminary detoxification. So unless you are regularly taking minute-long showers in cold water, “your body is like a sponge for these airborne toxins every second you spend in the shower,” says Mercola.
How to Protect Yourself from the Hazards of Chlorine
Obviously, avoiding showers altogether is not an option. There’s a far better (and simpler) solution — and that is … to get the chlorine out of your water. The best way to eliminate chlorine and its hazardous derivatives from your water supply is to install a shower filter.
These filters are widely available and easy to use. They attach directly to the faucet, and are capable of removing not only chlorine but also other chemicals such as water-soluble lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, iron, and other metals. These filters remove more contaminants than any other method, and also enhance the water’s pH balance.
The best way to protect your body — inside and out — from the chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that you are exposed to when showering in water drawn from the municipal water supply is by using a filter.