Trace amounts of chlorine – a chemical used to disinfect Houston City drinking water – may be partly to blame for some Houstonians’ dry irritated skin and allergy symptoms.
Like most water treatment plants, Houston’s Department of Public Works uses chlorine to kill viruses and bacteria in the city’s water. The Main System also uses chloramines, which are made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Ingesting chlorine, even in small amounts, is known to cause digestive problems, and exposure to it can result in adverse reactions.
“I used to have pretty severe eczema,” says Debbie Hobbs, a Houston resident, “but my home water system has greatly improved the health of my skin. It hasn’t completely cured me of course – I didn’t expect that – but my itching is completely gone, the dryness is gone, and the only thing I still have is occasional outbreaks on my hands and feet. I didn’t change any of my products, so it has to be the water system. I’d order mine all over again.”
WebMD and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concur that chlorine can result in sinus irritation, asthmatic symptoms, sore throat, eye irritation, skin irritation, rash, and chemical conjunctivitis. In fact, many doctors report seeing a higher number of patients suffering from sinus irritation during the summer as a result of their patients swimming in chlorine treated pools. But that’s not the only place Houston residents are coming into contact with the toxic chemical.
“The EPA allows up to 4 Parts Per Million (PPM) in municipal drinking water for disinfection,” says Chris Millard of GeniSoft, a Houston based water filtration company. “To put that in perspective, a swimming pool only needs 1.5 to 2.5 PPM to be disinfected, and Houston City drinking water has been known to spike as high as 3.8. You should only need 0.2 to 0.4 PPM to disinfect drinking water.”
The average American drinks about 58 gallons of water per year, and showers in 6,123 gallons annually. So, while the amounts of chlorine in one test sample of city water may seem low, the repeated and long-term exposure to those chemicals is cause for concern.
“Our team has installed systems in homes where you can smell the chlorine when you turn on the faucet,” says Elizabeth Morales, CEO of GeniSoft. “That should never happen. This is the water we shower in, wash our clothes in, cook with, and drink on a daily basis. If you can smell or taste the chemicals in your water, that means there’s enough in there to effect your senses. It makes sense that those chemicals could also effect your body in other ways, especially over time.”
But chlorine isn’t the only toxic chemical in our water. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires US cities to monitor 97 contaminants, they also estimate that over 60,000 chemicals are being used throughout the US, and many of those can and do make their way into our water.
“Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water,” reports Charles Duhigg of The New York Times.
While the EPA is working to study the long-term effects of 52 pesticide chemicals suspected of causing developmental and reproductive health problems, completing that research and updating ordinances and laws regarding them will take years. Many Houstonians don’t want to wait that long.
“Before we bought a water filtration system, I had considerable trouble with dry skin, especially on my hands,” says North Houston resident Rachel Miller. “Washing them several times a day was hard on my skin, but now that we use a filtration system, my hands stay soft.”
Elizabeth Morales, CEO of GeniSoft, agrees that even small amounts of toxic chemicals in our drinking water is a health concern.
“Think about all the water spots on your shower door, your bathroom faucets, and your dishes,” explains Morales. “Some of it is soap residue, but most is mineral and chemical buildup from your tap water. That stuff is also on your skin when you get out of the shower, and in your laundry. We don’t need research studies to determine whether having a film of chemicals and minerals on your skin could irritate you. It makes perfect sense that it could.”
- NIH: U.S. National Library of Medicine
- WebMD: Summer Sinus Problems
- The New York Department of Health
GeniSoft is a family-owned business based in North Houston which supplies, installs, maintains, and repairs water filtration systems for home and business. GeniSoft’s high quality technology is available at a fraction of the cost of most competitors, and efficiently removes chemicals, minerals, pharmaceuticals, pollutants, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants from both city and well water. For more information please visit www.GeniSoftWater.com or call 281.803.6009.