Chlorine is a disinfectant added to drinking water to reduce or eliminate microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, which can be present in water supplies.
The addition of chlorine to our drinking water has greatly reduced the risk of waterborne diseases.However, chlorine also reacts with the organic matter, naturally present in water, such as decaying leaves. This chemical reaction forms a group of chemicals known as disinfection by-products. The most common of these by-products are trihalomethanes (THMs), which include chloroform (Health Canada, http://hc-sc.gc.ca).
High levels of Chlorine by-products and Cancer
Lab animals exposed to very high levels of THMs showed an increased risk of cancer. Several studies on humans have also found a link between long-term exposure to high levels of chlorination by-products and a higher risk of cancer. For instance, a recent study showed an increased risk of bladder and possibly colon cancer in people who drank chlorinated water for 35 years or more (Health Canada, http://hc-sc.gc.ca).
Chlorine by-products and Pregnancy
High levels of THMs may also have an effect on pregnancy. A California study found that pregnant women who drank large amounts of tap water with high THMs had an increased risk of miscarriage. These studies do not prove that there is a link between THMs and cancer or miscarriage. However, they do show the need for further research in this area to confirm potential health effects (Health Canada, http://hc-sc.gc.ca).
Alternatives to Chlorination
A number of cities use ozone to disinfect their water, because ozonation does not produce THMs. Although ozone is a very effective disinfectant, it breaks down quickly and cannot be used to maintain disinfection in the distribution system. Small amounts of chlorine or other disinfectants still must be added.
All chemical disinfectants used in drinking water can be expected to form by-products that could affect human health. In general, we know less about the by-products of other disinfectants than about chlorination by-products.
There is no easy way that you can remove all disinfection by-products, but here are some steps you can take.
Performance Water Systems offers the customizable Kinetico K5 Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Station, including an Chlorine & Sediment pre-filter option as well as a variety of Water Softener and Dechlorinator Units for complete removal of chlorine. The K5 removes more contaminants than any other NSF certified drinking water system and produces over 150 litres (40 gallons) a day without electricity or pumps.
Call or email Performance Water Systems today and make an appointment to speak to a Water Treatment Specialist about treating your water supply.