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CHLORINE AND OTHER HEALTH HAZARDS

The Experts Agree ...

MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN:
Dr. Robert Morris and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin concluded after examination of 10 previous studies on the cancer-causing abilities of chlorinated water: "There is a clear pattern between consumption of chlorinated water and rectal and bladder cancer."
--Dr. Robert Morris
(Dr. Robert Morris has been the featured health/water expert on "Dateline NBC" and was a key presenter at the WQA National Show in March 1995.)

THE WASHINGTON POST
"The EPA has raised skin absorption of chlorine to its top 10 carcinogen watch list."
June 1994

[Skin absorption of chlorine occurs in your shower, bathtub, swimming pool and spa. -- Unless you have a Point of Entry (POE) system to remove all toxins before they enter your property.]

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH:
Halina Szejnwlad Brown, Donna Bishop and Carol Rowan contrast their estimates of skin absorption versus drinking for three toxic chemicals: Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Styrene. Depending both on the compound involved and the body region exposed, skin can act as a fairly strong barrier to chemical entry or as no barrier at all. Their analyses were based on data published for the hand, one of the least porous areas of the body. Their finding was that for a swimmer, between 83 percent and 91 percent of the chemicals entering the body came through the skin.

 

CHLOROFORM REASONABLY ANTICIPATED TO BE A HUMAN CARCINOGEN:

The primary routes of potential human exposure to chloroform are ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact with water (e.g., while showering, swimming, cleaning, and cooking). Therefore, all humans are exposed to low levels of the chemical (NCI, 1976b; IARC V.20, 1979; ATSDR, 1997-R024). Ingestion of contaminated water is expected to be a major source since most drinking water supplies may contain chloroform as a by-product of chlorination for disinfection purposes. The concentration of chloroform in drinking water increases with time; typical levels range from 2 to 68 ppb... Exposure via inhalation results in 60 to 80% absorption. Placental transfer of chloroform has also been demonstrated (IPCS, 1994b). Bathing or showering with chlorinated tap water can expose a person to chloroform via all three routes. A recent investigation has shown that water temperature exerts a very strong effect on dermal absorption of chloroform while bathing (Gordon et al., 1998). Among ten subjects, the mean amounts of chloroform exhaled at the lowest bath-water temperature (30oC) was 0.2 µg, while at the highest temperature (40oC) it was 7 µg, a factor of almost 30. This is explained by the heat-conserving or heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body, where at low bath-water temperatures the capillaries closest to the skin's surface experience decreased blood flow, which forces the chloroform to diffuse across a greater distance to reach the blood. At high bath-water temperatures, the opposite occurs. While great attention has been on trihalomethane exposures resulting from routine ingestion of chlorinated water, Lindstrom et al. (1997) recently undertook the effort of examining dermal and inhalation exposures that occur in a residential setting. In this case, the common recreational sport of swimming was studied observing two college students (one male and one female) during a typical two-hour workout. Chloroform breath concentrations, found to be as high as 371 µg/m3 and 339 µg/m3 for the subjects, respectively, were more than two times the maximum possible inhalation-only level. Furthermore, the maximum alveolar breath concentrations ultimately rose to more than twice the indoor chloroform level, suggesting that the dermal pathway is the major means of exposure to chloroform versus the inhalation route; the dermal contribution was estimated at greater than 80%. (Excerpts from the US NIH NINTH REPORT ON CARCINOGENS EXPOSURE CHLOROFORM CAS No. 67-66-3 First Listed in the Second Annual Report on Carcinogens)


Toxic effect of chlorine skin absorption
Hazards in the bath & shower
Chlorine chemically bonds with proteins in the hair, skin and scalp. Hair can become rough and brittle and lose color. Skin can dry out with itchy, flaky scalp occurring. Chlorine can aggravate sensitive areas in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Chlorine combines with organic substances forming Trihalomethanes including Chloroform. The most common volatile compounds found by the EPA in drinking water supplies are: trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, benzene,1,1,1-trichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, ethylene chloride,1,1-dichloroethylene, bis-1,2-dichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, trans-1,2-dichloroethylene, chlorobenzene, dichlorobenzene, and trichlorobenzene.
INHALATION
Chlorine, trichloroethylene (TCE), chloroform, benzene and other vapors are readily absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream. Chloroform (a Trihalomethane or THM) and TCE are two highly volatile toxic chemicals that have been identified in many municipal drinking-water supplies. The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that hundreds of people may die in the U.S. each year from cancers caused by ingesting these contaminants in water. However, the major threat caused by these water toxins is far more likely to be as air pollutants in the home according to a study by Dr. Julian Andelman. He found that in the shower when temperature and chemical concentrations increase and diameter of shower head holes decrease, volatilization increases. His data indicate that hot showers can liberate about 50% of the dissolved chloroform and 80% of the dissolved TCE into the air. Both the heat and the large surface-to-volume ratio of small droplets increase vaporization.

American Journal of Public Health May 84
Science News Sep 86
Pool & Spa News Oct. 86

LONG-TERM HEALTH HAZARDS IN THE HOME
Most poisonings happen slowly, over a long period of time, by daily exposures to toxins in the air, and toxic chemicals that come into contact with the skin. In one study conducted over a fifteen-year period, women who worked at home had a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who had jobs away from the home! The study concluded that the increased death rate in the women was due to daily exposure to the hazardous chemicals [like chlorine] in the home.

DANGERS OF USING HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS WITH CHLORINE
"A peculiar accident reported by the National Safety Council involved two housewives in separate cases. Both were using an ordinary toilet bowl cleaner. Not satisfied with the way it was removing stain, each one added some household bleach and stirred with a brush. One died quickly, the other spent a long time in the hospital."

Chlorine is a toxic, yellow-green gas that is one of today's most heavily used chemical agents. Serious risks to our health and the health of the environment are being caused by the widespread use of chlorine. The use of chlorine in household cleaners has recently raised much controversy.

Many household cleaners contain chlorine but the labels indicate the alias names of "sodium hypochlorite" or "hypochlorite" [swimming pool chlorine]. Whether chlorine is found alone or in a mixture with other chemicals, household products that contain chlorine pose a number of serious health risks. Automatic dishwashing detergents, chlorine bleach, chlorinated disinfectant cleaners, mildew removers and toilet bowl cleaners are some of the products of special concern.

The fumes of cleaners containing a high concentration of chlorine when breathed in can irritate the lungs and be particularly dangerous for people who suffer from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema. When the fumes are emitted in small, poorly ventilated rooms such as the bathroom, the risks are increased. Chlorine is also a highly corrosive material which is capable of damaging skin, eyes and other membranes.

When using detergents that contain chlorine in the dishwasher or clothes washer the air in your home becomes polluted through a process called "volatilization" which takes place when the chlorine in the water transfers the chlorine to the air. We then breathe the contaminated air. Dishwashers are the worst offenders as they release chemicals in a steamy mist when the door is opened after washing. In a clothes washer, chorine mixes with the dirt in clothes to create airborne, toxic chlorinated organic chemicals.

Overall, chlorine is a dangerous chemical to keep in your home. In 1993, 40,000 exposures to chlorine were reported to poison control centers which is more than any other chemical. Fragranced chlorine bleaches are especially dangerous because the odor is disguised and actually makes the experience of inhaling chlorines bleach pleasant.

Mixing household products containing chlorine with other cleaning agents is another danger due to the fact that these mixtures can create chlorine gas and chloramines, toxic gases that can injure the deep tissues of the lungs.

Whenever chlorine is used, organochlorides are formed which are forerunners to dioxins, a deadly class of compounds that cause toxic health effects. A new EPA draft report on the dangers of dioxins warns for the first time that even trace amounts can cause serious health problems including cancer, birth defects, genetic mutations, threats to the immune and reproductive systems, and damage to the liver, kidneys and skin.

Read labels on cleaning supplies and look for those which do not contain chlorine. Find safer, more natural and environmentally responsible products to clean your home. Never mix bleach with acids such as vinegar, ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners or chlorinated scouring powder, as it produces deadly chloramine gas which can result in the burning of mucous membranes and chemical pneumonia.

"Make a DIFFERENCE," http://jody.kidsneedus.com, April, 2004

ARSENIC
Arsenic occurs naturally in rocks, soil, water, air, and plants. According to the EPA, international studies have linked long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate. Seven months after it set off a political firestorm by suspending the Clinton administration's toughened standard for acceptable levels of naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water, the Bush administration announced October 31 that it is adopting the same standard of 10 parts arsenic per billion parts water. But administration critics greeted the announcement by saying the EPA had no choice but to retain the 10-parts-per-billion (ppb) standard. They argued that a recent study commissioned by the administration showed that it should have adopted an even tougher standard of 3 parts per billion. "They're moving in the right direction, but they did it because they had no choice," said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The study showed that even at 10 ppb the probable death rate from arsenic-related cancer is 30 times the EPA's acceptable rate. "They ordered a new study as a delaying tactic, and it came back and bit them in the arsenic," Boxer said. She said she will push for legislation forcing the EPA to adopt "the lowest level that is achievable" for arsenic in drinking water. [Arsenic is one of the 150 potential contaminants in municiapal water that is effectively filtered out by Pristine Water's Point-of-Entry filtration system.]

CRYPTOSPORIDIUM
Cryptosporidium is an infectious parasite that survives in chlorinated water meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water quality standards. Chlorine, although used extensively for water treatment, cannot kill some microorganisms, including Cryposporidium and Giardia. Cryptosporidium is a protozoan and an intracellular parasite that infects a variety of animals including humans. It is a round oocyst 4 to 6 microns in diameter that was first recognized as a cause of human illness in 1976. Infection can occur from drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated food, exposure to fecal contaminated surfaces and from person to person exposure via the fecal-oral route when hands are not properly washed. Person to person infection is well documented in places like day-care centers and hospitals. There are also many routes for waterborne transmission. All surface water may harbor Cryptosporidium contamination. Oocysts have been found in lakes, rivers, and ground wate; in one survey, as many as 20 percent of test wells contained the cyst. Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever. The illness typically lasts 10 to 14 days, but can last up to 30. There is no cure, and recovery depends on the patient's immune system. Certain treatments reduce the severity of some of the symptoms, but the disease can be fatal for people with certain health conditions. In severe cases it develops into a prolonged, life-threatening, cholera-like illness. People with weak immune systems are most vulnerable.

Cryptosporidium oocysts resist chlorinating and the use of chlorine dioxide. Oocyst viability wasn't affected by exposure to even 30,000 parts per million (ppm) chlorine as sodium hypochlorite for up to 18 hours. It takes sodium hypochlorite at higher than 700,000 ppm concentrations to eliminate the cyst. These doses cannot be used in practical applications. Effective treatment methods include powerful oxidation, ultra-violet and physical filtering by a fine enough, uniform and bypass-resistant filtering device. There is some evidence that the cyst can range down in size to 2.5 microns. This and the flexibility of the cyst when it is subjected to filtering forces, indicate the need for a purification process that is more effective than either chlorine or normal filtering. [However, cryptosporidium is immediately killed by strong oxidation. One of the three functions of Pristine Water's POE electrodes is to provide oxidation that is stronger than most swimming pool ozone generators. Ozone and Anodyne Oxygen Process are the only known in-line disinfectants that have sufficient oxidation potential to be effective against the water-borne pathogen, cryptosporidium. A major advantage of both the Anodyne Oxygen Process and ozone is that they do not create health threatening by-products such as dioxins and trihalomenthanes (THMs) that are created by chlorination. Our systems generate more oxygen radicals in one minute (20 to 80 grams) than most ozonators can generate in one hour (1/3 gram to 50 grams). To compare the oxidizing potential, if chlorine is the benchmark, then ozone is exponentially more effective than chlorine, and the anodyne process is exponentially more powerful than ozone.]

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