A lot of people never ask the question. It's a great question just the same. While most of us are concerned about the quality of our drinking water, many of us take a shower in tap water every day without giving it a thought.
But two things happen when you shower:
- You run warm water all over your yourself, opening up the pores of your skin. That water penetrates into the skin and is absorbed.
- You inhale the mist of the shower water, along with the chlorine used in tap water from all municipal water supplies. You also inhale the trihalomethanes (THMs), a group of four nasty chemicals that are byproducts of chlorine use. Chlorine and all four THMs are carcinogens.
Pure water is very beneficial and hydrates the skin. Chlorinated water, however, tends to do the opposite: it dries out the skin.
And you may well inhale more chlorine in shower water than you ingest by drinking it. That chlorine goes to your lungs, which are extremely sensitive to the harsh, inflammatory effects of chlorine and THMs.
If your skin is dry, or you have any skin disorder, it's especially important that you bathe in pure water.
Small children are especially sensitive to impurities in drinking water. Asthma and bronchitis are growing problems, and chlorine is known to aggravate both conditions.
Finally, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the dangerous chemicals called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are present in one-fifth of the nation's water supplies.
Here are some of the commonly detected VOCs you could be inhaling in the shower:
- Benzene, from gasoline spills;
- Methylene chloride, an industrial solvent;
- Trichloroethylene, used in septic system cleaners;
- “Perc, " the abbreviation for the foul-smelling stuff used in drycleaning.
So is tap water safe for bathing and showering?
Many of us don't think so.
That's probably why shower filters are growing rapidly in popularity. A good shower water filter will effectively remove chlorine, its THM byproducts, and VOCs as well.
The most effective shower filters will typically use a two-stage filter process that takes out chlorine and balances the pH in one step and filters out harmful VOCs and THMs in a second stage.
For more specifics and recommendations, see my website.
Kathryn Lane is a health and nutrition researcher. The most valuable and effective products she finds are rarely the most expensive or the most-advertised, she reports on her website: http://www.filtered-safe-water.com/