Originally published in The White Rock Sun, Feb 1, 2016 and The Peace Arch News, Feb 12, 2016.
For those not comfortable drinking chlorinated tap water, here are some tips that may help ease the worry.
If you have the budget, look into installing a whole-house water filtration system. Costs can run up to $1,500 (or more). That doesn’t include the replacement filters that last up to 6 months. Single-tap counter top or under-counter water filter systems average from $150 to $500, but the filters need changing more often. Ultraviolet Light (UV) is also effective to remove chlorine from water supplies. Whole-House UV Light Sterilizers start at about $500. Another option is self-standing water coolers, if the heavy replacement bottles aren’t an inconvenience. There are many kinds of systems and price ranges. Do the research for a system that best meets your budget and needs.
Tests shows chlorine will dissipate from water over time, when left uncovered (about 24 hours, say some sources, two days say others). And at the same time, exposure to sunlight will help speed chlorine dissipation. TIP: Alternate several glass water pitchers from a sunny spot on the counter to the refrigerator, for an ongoing, rotating water supply.
Add a few lemon slices to your water pitcher (or a few drops of pure lemon juice) to help dissipate the chlorine. Lemons and limes offer a concentrated source of vitamin C, which has been shown to dissipate or neutralize chlorine. Sanitary engineers use vitamin C to neutralize chlorine before flushing out water systems. Surprisingly, tests show only a small amount of lemon in your glass will make a difference. Keep this in mind when you have water in a restaurant: ask for
Research finds charcoal can filter 95 to 100% of chlorine from water. Charcoal filter pitchers are a less costly choice than whole-house systems. “Brita” products are just one example. They are available in BPA-free plastic or stainless steel. To store larger amounts of filtered water, pour it into a glass Beverage Dispenser equipped with a built-in tap. Leave it on the counter or in the refrigerator. Refillable coolers need regular cleaning.
Bottled water is another option, but it’s ‘buyer beware.’ According to Health Canada, Federal regulations allow the use of the words “Spring” or “Mineral” water on the bottle’s label only if the water originates from an underground source and it may not be modified from its original composition. However, it may be treated by the addition of carbon dioxide for carbonation, ozone for disinfection, or fluoride to prevent dental carries. The label must reveal if these methods were used. Bottled water not labeled as Spring or Mineral water may be from any source and can be treated to modify its original composition, to make it fit for human consumption. Again, the label must indicate how it was treated, so be sure to read the label to know what you’re drinking. Bottled water sold in Canada is inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and/or regional health officials.
Will boiling tap water help dissipate the chlorine? Some sources say no, others say yes, although they differ on how long to boil: anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
Many sources suggest several nutrients in food (especially vitamin C) and perhaps even certain properties in tea and coffee, help dissipate any chlorine in the tap water used.
To water small indoor and outdoor plants, use tap water that’s been sitting (for at least a day or two) in large, open-top watering cans. As for watering outdoors with a hose, studies indicate chlorine binds to particles on the soil’s surface. The organisms in the topmost surface of soil or compost may be affected but little chlorine remains as the water seeps downward. In one test, researchers found organisms deeper than one half inch were thriving and the affected organisms in the top layer quickly replenished (partly due to chlorine’s quick dissipation). In order to kill soil microorganisms to a six inch soil depth, it required water containing 65 parts per million of chlorine. Drinking water contains much lower chlorine levels (about 70% lower). Read more here: http://planttalk.colostate.edu/topics/lawns/1548-impact-watering-lawns-gardens-chlorinated-water/
What about bath water concerns? Chlorine is also absorbed via the skin; more so than through the digestive system. The liver, kidneys and other mechanisms filter the chemicals you eat and drink. However, skin absorption does not involve the filtering benefits of the digestive process, so your body can absorb much more chlorine through the skin.
Vitamin C added to water instantly dissipates chlorine, based on studies done by water utility companies in Canada and the U.S. There are vitamin C bath salts and tablets designed for bathing, or use plain vitamin C powder. Consider using calcium ascorbate, or sodium ascorbate powder, instead of the slightly more acidic ascorbic acid version of vitamin C. Calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate have a neutral pH and may be less irritating to the skin. If they are difficult to find, ask your local health store to stock them for you. Only ¼ tsp (about 1,000 mg vitamin C) will neutralize the chlorine in up to 100 gallons of water, which is much more than what a standard-sized tub holds. Avoid using more; it’s not necessary. And using the recommended small amount makes your vitamin C supply last longer!
For those who prefer to shower, you are probably not going to absorb as much chlorine than you would soaking yourself in a tub -- unless you take really long showers. Consider a shower head filter with charcoal and/or vitamin C within the shower head. Shop around for the many chlorine-eliminating and water storage products available.
Eve Lees is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and a Freelance Health Writer for several publications. www.artnews-healthnews.com
Ideas for dechlorinating and water storage products (these are offered as examples only; this article’s intent is not to endorse or support any company or product):