Too much of a good thing can have some nasty side effects. And that includes chlorine in your drinking water.
Since we get a lot of our drinking water from open sources like lakes and reservoirs, it is necessary to kill all the pathogens.
Nobody is suggesting that killing the bacteria and pathogens in the public drinking supply is a bad thing. But, is too much chlorine actually bad for you? And how much is too much? Knowing the side effects of chlorine in tap water is the first step towards treatment.
Many people are starting to take a closer look at what is in their water and are beginning to have second thoughts about that chlorine. From the effects on your hair and skin to even more serious problems, it seems like chlorine is a double edged sword.
Once you understand the chlorine side effects in your tap water then read on to find out how to remove it from your drinking water and shower.
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Is Chlorine in Tap Water Safe?
The short answer is, yes, it is safe to have chlorine in your drinking water. The safe level of chlorine in drinking water is up to 4 parts per million according to the EPA. (Source)
The EPA, though also reports that there are side effects even at lower levels. So even though it is technically safe to drink water with that maximum limit, many people will react differently.
Here are some side effects reported by the EPA:
- Potential irritant to the lungs, upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
- Under 0.054 parts per million (ppm) can exhibit tickling of the nose and throat.
- 0.06 to 0.3 ppm shows stinging and dryness of the nose and throat.
- 1 ppm and over can lead to coughing, shortness of breath and headaches.
- Over 30 ppm can result in burns to the skin, vomiting and diarrhea.
Some have claimed that high doses of chlorine can lead to cancer, but it is unclear if there is a link. The EPA does acknowledge, however, that studies show an association between bladder and rectal cancer linked to the organic compounds found in chlorinated water.
When chlorine reacts with the presence of organic matter in the water it produces Trihalomethanes which are possible carcinogens.
Looking for a water pitcher filter that removes chloramine? Check out this comparison article between Brita and Zero Water to see which one is best!
Chlorine and your Gut Health
People are trying to get more and more probiotics in their diet lately, but the problem is that too much chlorine actually kills a lot of the beneficial bacteria in your system.
That’s how effective chlorine is at killing bacteria that it even takes away those that we need.
Because of this our immune system gets weakened and causes us to get sick more often. If you are getting more and more susceptible to colds, stomach bugs and other common ailments, it may mean that your immune system is weak and chlorine might be the reason why.
Chlorine Effects on the Skin and Hair
One of the many effects of chlorine on your skin and hair is that it strips them of your natural oil. This leads to dry, flaky and often irritated skin and scalp. And as for your hair, it can end up brittle and hard to manage.
If you have acne you may see it begin to go away if you’ve only just started showering in a new place that has highly chlorinated water. But, over time your acne will actually get aggravated and end up causing more painful acne than before.
If you have dyed or treated hair, you may really end up worse for wear if you shower with a lot of chlorine in the water supply. In fact, you may see your hair turn different shades of green in some extreme cases.
You can just deal with the excess chlorine and its side effects on your hair and skin by using moisturizers and other skin care products. Or, you can solve the problem at its source and go for shower heads that remove chlorine from your water as it passes through the head.
More on that later in the article. If you want an in-depth article about the best shower head filters then click that link to read all about them. There’s more to them than you think!
Chlorine and Eczema
There are different types of eczema and the chlorine in your water will have different effects depending on the reason why you have it.
What I mean by that is if you get eczema or dermatitis as a rash from contact like from a plant, then the chlorine may actually help your eczema. It dries out your skin and washes away the cause of the irritation so it could actually calm the dermatitis in this case.
If you have an autoimmune eczema then you’re likely to see your itchy spots become even worse. This is why people with chronic eczema are wary about swimming in pools.
It is hard to avoid showering or bathing in the water in your home, however.
Chlorine Test Kit for Drinking Water
Testing for chlorine is easy and inexpensive, not to mention quick. There are a number of different ways to test so here are a couple to consider.
- Chlorine test strips – In just a few seconds you can get a general idea of how much chlorine is in your water. Just run one of the strips under your tap and then wait a few seconds It will change color and you compare the color to the instructions to see how much chlorine is in your water. Sen Safe Chlorine Test Strips from Amazon is cheap and as accurate as you can get with test strips.
- Chlorine test meters – You can let a gadget take the guesswork out of checking your chlorine. These meters are easy to use, far more accurate than test strips and can test for many other water quality issues. Test Assured Digital TDS Meter can test not only our chlorine in seconds but also bacteria pH and heavy metals.
How to Remove Chlorine from Tap Water
Removing chlorine from your drinking water and shower is easy, cheap and fast. You don’t need a plumber or any special knowledge. All you need is a filter. Which kind depends on your needs.
Shower Head Filter
If you don’t mind the taste of chlorine in your water but don’t like how your skin and hair are getting dried out then you should look into a shower filter that attaches right to the head. These are ideal for those in an apartment that can’t use a whole house filter or are on a budget.
There are some that act simply as filters for chlorine and even bacteria while others can even soften your water.
A common filter media is Vitamin C as it removes the chlorine from the water as it passes like this one from Aquabliss. It’s the most popular shower head filter on Amazon as it is very effective at a great price.
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There are so many different kinds so I made up a list of some of the very best so go here to check out the shower head filter reviews in more detail.
Whole House Filter
If you don’t want any sign of chlorine at any tap then you need to use a whole house filter. There are tons on the market and many of them filter more than just chlorine. Look into some that can take care of bacteria, chlorine and even chloramine which is harder to remove than chlorine and has many of the same nasty side effects.
Home Master HMF2SMGCC Whole House will treat both chlorine and chloramine as well as iron, manganese and sulfur smells.
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Countertop Water Filter
Like the whole house filter, you should look into a filter for your sink that does more than just filter out the chlorine. By hooking one of these filters up to your sink you will have pure, great tasting water right from the tap.
Apex Countertop Drinking Water Filter removes chlorine, chloramine, bacteria and heavy metals among other things that can be lurking in your water. You may be annoyed at the taste and smell of chlorine in your water and want to avoid ingesting it, but you can kill a few birds with one stone with this one.
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Water Pitcher Filter
What many people opt for to make their water taste better and make it healthier as a result is as simple as using a water pitcher filter. But, do these pitchers like Brita remove chlorine?
It depends on the kind that you get, but yes, ones like this Zero Water 10 Cup Water Filter Pitcher do remove a lot of chlorine and leave it tasting much better. It can also remove heavy metals like copper, cadmium, mercury and off tastes from sulfur.
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FAQ About Chlorine In Water
If you have over 6 parts per million chlorine in your drinking water after testing, then your shower may create fumes from the chlorine present. If you have asthma or COPD or other breathing problems then this may cause some issues.
In the amounts that could be found in a pool or your shower or bath, no, you can’t get chlorine burns. If you spill it directly on your skin then, yes, but this article is only about chlorine in your drinking water.
If you have high levels of chlorine in your drinking water then you probably won’t get headaches from ingesting it. When you shower, the fumes from the evaporating water can be breathed in and definitely give you headaches.
No, there has been no proof that you can absorb chlorine through your skin from a shower or even a pool with high amounts of chlorine.
There are a lot of reasons to remove chlorine from your water. I hope that after reading this you have found the perfect way for you to test the chlorine levels in your water.
As you can see, filtering chlorine from your water is easy and can reduce the chlorine side effects dramatically.
Nick Lopresti is the founder of YourH2Home and a home improvement expert. He has years of experience writing about various home improvement topics, mostly as it pertains to water systems.