Why is chlorine used in water and how does it affect health?
Chlorination is one of the processes that are carried out to treat water and its objective is to carry out a disinfection of all kinds of bacteria and pathogenic organisms. The ultimate goal of these treatments is to obtain drinking water that can be consumed by humans without risk to their health. But, is there any risk in the fact that this chemical has a presence in the water we drink? We will analyze it below.
As we saw in previous articles, the purification of water , according to its origin, state and destination is carried out in treatment plants . In these treatment stations, the disinfection phase tries to eliminate the bacterial load from the water, with all those microorganisms that have survived the previous processes. During the final phase of the process, an oxidizing substance is added to the water, which is usually chlorine or chlorine compounds, such as sodium hypochlorite (bleach) . In this way, its quality is guaranteed against possible accidental contamination or in the route along the sanitation or supply networks.
Therefore, chlorine is used to disinfect the water and leave it in optimal condition for consumption.
And it is that chlorine is a chemical product of enormous bactericidal power. All of this is aimed at reducing the probability of disease transmission through drinking water in order to avoid their spread through distribution networks. However, the use of this chemical component is not safe.
How Chlorine in Drinking Water Affects Health
According to the doctor of Medicine Josep Lluís Berdonces , who is based on different studies on this subject, the chlorination of water can have harmful effects on people’s health. The disinfection process is usually done with two main compounds, chlorine and monochloramine. Of these two products, the safer is the second, despite the fact that there are no major differences between them at a structural level.
It has humic and fulvic acids in its composition. Both, in contact with chlorine derivatives, form different compounds, such as trihalomethanes, halophenols, haloacetic acids or dihaloacetonitriles. The consequences of these chemical components on human health are varied. Many of them have a great affinity to bind with the various fats in the body, as they are lipophilic.
In this way, different studies cited by Dr. Berdonces mention research to see if these substances in drinking water can have mutagenic effects, that is, if they could alter the genetic structure of the cell nucleus.
The results in this regard showed that although the laboratory animals fed with chlorinated water did not present detectable alterations in their behavior nor did they have congenital malformations, mutations did occur in their internal bacterial cells.
Very low doses of chlorine are consumed
The problem with chlorine in human consumption is that, in daily practice, people are exposed to these chemical components in very low doses, but for very long periods of time (many decades, in the vast majority of cases). This reality means that there are still many doubts about the harmful effect of chlorine, since there are also no definitive studies in this regard.
On the other hand, according to the same report by Dr. Berdonces, there are a good number of studies and investigations that link chlorinated hydration with various types of cancer , such as urinary bladder, colon and rectum.
Another study, conducted by Drs . Wones and Glueck , found that chlorinated water can raise cholesterol levels in experimental animals.
Alternatives to water chlorination
All this confirms that the amount of residual chlorine present in drinking water must be constantly controlled by the authorities in charge of it, since there is numerous evidence of possible adverse effects on health. For this reason, in recent years other ways have emerged to achieve complete disinfection of water without having to resort to chlorination. Some of these alternative treatments are exposure to ozone or ultraviolet lamps, which we will try to analyze in future articles.
Rain of Life equipment does not use chlorine in its water treatment and purification process.