American municipalities add chlorine to their drinking water to
get rid of contaminants like nitrates, arsenic and pesticides. But
this inexpensive and highly effective disinfectant has a dark side.
“Chlorine, added as an inexpensive and effective drinking water
disinfectant, is also a known poison to the body,” says Vanessa
Lausch of filter manufacturer Aquasana. “It is certainly no
coincidence that chlorine gas was used with deadly effectiveness
as a weapon in the First World War.” The gas would severely
burn the lungs and other body tissues when inhaled, and is no less
powerful when ingested by mouth.
that researchers have now linked chlorine in drinking water to higher
incidences of bladder, rectal and breast cancers. Reportedly chlorine,
once in water, interacts with organic compounds to create trihalomethanes
(THMs) – which when ingested encourage the growth of free radicals
that can destroy or damage vital cells in the body. “Because
so much of the water we drink ends up in the bladder and/or rectum,
ingestions of THMs in drinking water are particularly damaging to
these organs,” says Lausch.
The link between
chlorine and bladder and rectal cancers has long been known, but
only recently have researchers found a link between common chlorine
disinfectant and breast cancer, which affects one out of every eight
American women. A recent study conducted in Hartford, Connecticut
found that women with breast cancer have 50–60 percent higher
levels of organochlorines (chlorine by-products) in their breast
tissue than cancer-free women.