Chlorine is one of the most commonly used chemicals at water treatment and supply plants. It helps ensure a supply of disinfected water. The chemical prevents the growth of algae, bacteria, and slime. It can also neutralise harmful viruses and bacteria that cause water-borne diseases. But is chlorinated water safe to drink?
The Role of Chlorine in Providing Disinfected Water
Adding chlorine in drinking water is also called chlorination. Chlorination helps kill parasites, viruses, and bacteria in the water. In fact, chlorination is a recommended water purification technique for combating possible contamination. Especially in times of calamity.
However, the chlorine level in drinking water should not be over 4 parts per million (ppm) or 4 mg per litre of water. Otherwise, it can lead to several health issues as well.
The By-products of Chlorine in Water
The process of water disinfection with chlorine is used widely for water treatment. Pathogens found in raw water can be transmitted through a water distribution system. Chlorination is one of the many processes used to ensure a supply of disinfected water. It helps make water safe for consumption. Chlorine also reacts with the organic matter in water to form DBPs. DBPs refer to disinfection byproducts. Regular long-term exposure to certain DBPs can cause several side effects.
Chlorine and water can also form byproducts, like trihalomethanes (THMs). Long-term exposure to trihalomethanes may also lead to several health problems. Generally, there are regulatory authorities that track the chlorine level in drinking water. There are also limits set by health departments for DBP levels in water as well. Even low chlorine levels in water are not always preferred. The chemical can at times impart a bad taste or smell to the drinking water, making it less palatable. It is best to take measures for minimizing exposure to excessive chlorine in water.
Short-term Symptoms of Too Much Chlorine in Drinking Water
Symptoms: Coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing.
Explanation: Inhaling chlorine vapors, especially during activities like showering, can irritate the respiratory system.
Eye and Skin Irritation
Symptoms: Red, irritated eyes; dry or itchy skin.
Explanation: Chlorine can strip natural oils from the skin and eyes, causing irritation.
Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain.
Explanation: Ingesting water with high chlorine levels may lead to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms: Headaches or migraines.
Explanation: Some individuals may be sensitive to chlorine, and exposure can trigger headaches.
Side Effects of Excessive Chlorine in Water
Common DBPs of chlorine in water include Trihalomethanes (THMs) and halo-acetic acids (HAAs). These byproducts may be quite harmful to human health in the long run. Here’s more on some of the side effects of chlorine in drinking water and on health issues it may lead to:
- Cancer Risks – Chloroform is a type of THM, long-term exposure to which is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. These include bladder, colorectal, and other types of cancer. Research suggests that consuming chlorine in drinking water may increase these risks. Especially if the water has elevated levels of DBPs.
- Reproductive Issues & Developmental Concerns – Exposure to excessive chlorine in water may also cause adverse reproductive outcomes. It has been linked to increased risks of congenital defects and miscarriages. THMs can adversely affect pregnant women as well. They may also affect the foetus, leading to the development of birth abnormalities. These may include cleft palates, poor brain development, or ventricular septal defects. This is why women who are pregnant or planning to conceive should exercise extra caution. It is crucial to limit exposure to chlorine and its DBPs.
- Asthma & Respiratory Issues – People with asthma may experience worsened symptoms due to DBP exposure. DBPs may exacerbate asthma attacks and trigger respiratory distress. They may aggravate asthma symptoms and may increase other respiratory issues as well. DBPs tend to irritate the respiratory system. They may cause several related symptoms. These include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, etc. This is especially true for people with pre-existing respiratory issues. Even swimming or showering in chlorinated water may cause these symptoms.
- Irritation of the Eyes or Skin – Exposure to chlorine in water can lead to skin-related issues. Symptoms include dry skin, irritation and itchiness. These symptoms are more common among people with sensitive skin. Chlorinated water can also lead to eye-related issues. It can cause redness of the eyes, irritation, or discomfort.
- Gastrointestinal Issues – Gastrointestinal concerns are another side-effect to be aware of. High chlorine concentrations in water can cause several related symptoms. High levels of chlorine or DBP may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, etc. Chlorine is important for water disinfection however, it is crucial to balance the benefits and risks of chlorine. For some people, the health effects can be more severe. This includes young children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with health issues, etc. Regardless, it is important to have measures in place for the same. Small steps can help significantly reduce exposure to chlorine.
Removing Chlorine from Drinking Water
There are several methods for removing chlorine from drinking water. One of the best ways is to install an RO water purifier. But this does not mean simply rushing to a Nor does it mean buying the first purifier you find online. Choosing the right RO water purifier must be done carefully. You must put in due research and thought before deciding on the right water purifier for your needs.
Why Choose RO Water Purifiers?
RO water purifier systems are based on the use of a semi-permeable membrane. This membrane effectively removes chlorine as well as a range of other impurities. These impurities range from bacteria to pesticides and heavy metals. An RO purifier can ensure that drinking water is free from harmful contaminants. It provides chlorine-free, clean, and healthy water.
RO water purifiers offer comprehensive solutions for chlorine removal. They address various potential impurities to provide safe and healthy drinking water. The best part is that RO purifiers can also be rented. This is a useful option for those with budgetary constraints. People who are constantly relocating will also find renting to be a viable option.
Chlorine has disinfectant properties that are important for clean water supplies. But being aware of the potential risks is also important. To be on the safe side, be sure to explore the best water purification options, like RO purifiers.