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Toxic Chemical: The Health Dangers of Chlorine

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
A swimming pool. Chlorine is commonly found in swimming pool and can be very dangerous for your health.

Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and, as part of the literal salt of the earth, very abundant. Humans have harnessed chlorine and most commonly use it for disinfecting purposes. Unfortunately, chlorine's potential toxicity is not limited to mold and fungus and has actually been linked to serious health dangers for humans.

Chlorine Is Bad for the Brain

Chlorine is in many household cleaners, it’s used as a fumigant, and, since it impedes the growth of bacteria like e. coli and giardia, and is often added to water systems as a disinfectant. Subsequently, much exposure happens by drinking treated tap water. While disinfection of drinking water is a necessary measure to reduce diseases, concerns have been raised about the safety of chlorine, which has been linked to serious adverse health effects, including dementia in elderly patients.[1]

Chlorine Is Bad for the Lungs

Inhalation of chlorine gas can cause difficulty breathing, chest pains, cough, eye irritation, increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, and death. Where are most people exposed? The swimming pool. Consider that, when used to maintain a swimming pool, chlorine is a poison that's diluted just enough so that it can still kill pool scum without being strong enough to kill a human. Common sense dictates that can't be a totally harmless situation and the research backs it up.

A review of available research (and there is a lot of it) by Marywood University confirms that long-term exposure to chlorinated pools can cause symptoms of asthma in swimmers.[2] This can affect athletes who were previously healthy, especially adolescents.[3]

Chlorine is even toxic enough to be a chemical weapon and categorized as a “choking agent”.[4] Exposure would be a very traumatic experience.[5] In fact, the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina reported a chlorine spill accident that happened in South Carolina in January of 2005. Ten months after the event, exposure victims were still so shaken that many reported recurring PTSD symptoms.[6]

Chlorine Is Caustic

In addition to the internal effects of exposure to chlorine, eye and skin irritation in swimmers has been hypothesized to originate from chlorine exposure.[7] That's not all, did you know that swimming pool chlorine is associated with tooth enamel erosion? It’s not often mentioned but the New York University College of Dentistry lists it as a prime concern.[8]

Reducing Chlorine Exposure

Much chlorine exposure happens by choice and by simply making new choices you can help reduce exposure risks. If you have a pool, avoid chlorine products. There are alternative methods that can be used to keep pools disinfected, including silver-copper ion generators and salt water.

Avoid home cleaning products that contain chlorine. There are natural and organic alternatives available. You can even make your own.

One of the most significant measures you can take is to always drink distilled water or consider a water purification system for your home. It will help to reduce toxins before the water even comes out the faucet.

References (8)
  1. Siritapetawee J, et al. Trace element analysis of hairs in patients with dementia. J Synchrotron Radiat. 2010 Mar;17(2):268-72. doi: 10.1107/S0909049509055319. Epub 2010 Jan 16.
  2. Fisk MZ, et al. Asthma in swimmers: a review of the current literature. Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Dec;38(4):28-34. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.12.1822. Review.
  3. Carlsen KH. The breathless adolescent asthmatic athlete. Eur Respir J. 2011 Sep;38(3):713-20. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00068510. Epub 2011 Mar 24. Review.
  4. Anderson PD. Emergency management of chemical weapons injuries. J Pharm Pract. 2012 Feb;25(1):61-8. doi: 10.1177/0897190011420677. Epub 2011 Nov 11. Review.
  5. Mohan A, et al. Acute accidental exposure to chlorine gas: clinical presentation, pulmonary functions and outcomes. Indian J Chest Dis Allied Sci. 2010 Jul-Sep;52(3):149-52.
  6. Ginsberg JP, et al. Posttraumatic stress and tendency to panic in the aftermath of the chlorine gas disaster in Graniteville, South Carolina. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Sep;47(9):1441-8. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0449-6. Epub 2011 Nov 10.
  7. Florentin A, et al. Health effects of disinfection by-products in chlorinated swimming pools. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2011 Nov;214(6):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Sep 1. Review.
  8. Jahangiri L, et al. Severe and rapid erosion of dental enamel from swimming: a clinical report. J Prosthet Dent. 2011 Oct;106(4):219-23. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3913(11)60126-1.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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