Public water has been a characteristic of a civilized nation and area since the Romans introduced clean, fresh, publicly available water thousands of years ago. With this access, citizens were able to improve the level of their sanitation as they were able to move waste out of their cities and were able to clean their food and themselves. Readily available public water is also a much cleaner source than the previous sources, such as wells or old buckets carried from a nearby stream. However, even with all these improvements, feces and bacteria were still able to enter the water supply and cause illness and disease within the local population.
The first use of Chlorine in our drinking water in the U.S. took place at the Boonton Reservoir in New Jersey. Six decades later in the 1960’s there were more than 19,000 cities across the country using the chlorination method. The benefits of chlorination were made quite clear through medical statistics. Diseases like Cholera, Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A, all prevalent prior to chlorination, declined dramatically after its adoption across the country.
Unfortunately like many things, there are also negatives associated with progress and we often see an advance that cloaks a step backwards. Chlorination has many benefits, but also has its share of side effects, and those side effects are dangerous ones. Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM’s) are a byproduct of the chlorination process that can emerge in public tap water. TTHM’s are a known cause of anemia in the unborn as well as infants and young children.
In an article in the American Journal of Public Health, published in 1992, the Medical College of Wisconsin released a study that dealt specifically with the health effects of chlorinated tap water. The Medical College found that there was a sharp increase in Bladder and Rectal Cancers due to the chlorination process when they compared individuals who drank chlorinated water to those who did not. This increase is seen as those who drank chlorinated water had an increase in Bladder cancer by 9% and Rectal Cancer by 18%. The researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin estimated that this results in 20,000 new cases of cancer a year in the United States. This means that if Americans who live in cities that chlorinated their water used a simple carbon filter there could be 20,000 fewer cases of cancer ever year in this country.
The lead researcher of the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Robert Morris teamed up with scientists at Harvard and found even more startling results. Long time users of chlorinated water had a 21% increase in Bladder cancers as well as a 38% increase in Rectal Cancers. After these studies Dr Morris is quoted as saying “I am quite convinced…there is an association between cancer and chlorinated water.”
Simple Carbon Water Filters can be used to filter out the dangerous byproducts of Chlorine in tap water when used for consumption as well as bathing. Not to get to scientific about it, the way the filter works is this. Carbon has a positive charge, while most water contaminants have a negative charge. If you remember from high school chemistry, negatively charged ions are attracted to each other. When the water flows through the carbon, the contaminants are attracted to the positive Carbon molecules and attach themselves to it, leaving the pure, filtered water to flow through.
There are numerous products on the market that can filter out dangerous TTHM by-products, as well as the “off-putting” taste that chlorine can add to water. PUR and BRITA are the most well-known, but there is a slight, but important difference in their filtering abilities. In each company’s line of Pitcher Water Filters, PUR was found to eliminate 97% of Chlorine, while Brita came in around 94%. In each company’s line of Faucet Water Filters, PUR beat out BRITA by 97.4% to 94%.
This is just one of many studies, but they all show that PUR outperforms BRITA in this capacity, and 3% is a big deal. For just $20 an individual can have water nearly free of TTHM’s and significantly reduces your risk of consuming cancer causing agents.