Without food, most humans will die in a month, as long as they have water. Without water, they won’t survive more than about 10 days. Water makes up 75% of the body, 90% of the blood, and 85% of the brain. One of the main reasons behind the eradication of infectious diseases, was a controlled water supply. After all those centuries, it finally dawned on people that they wouldn’t die quite so fast if the water they drank was not contaminated with sewage. So in the 1800s, the hallmark of a ‘civilised’ city, both in Europe and in America, became ‘a municipal water supply and a sewage system’. This one development was the single biggest health advancement in history.Find expert advice about Well Chlorination read here.
Chlorine, as it exists in nature, is an element, a raw mineral that is actually an essential mineral in human nutrition. Industrial chlorine, by contrast, is another thing altogether. Industrial chlorine is not a natural compound. It must be manufactured, by passing an electric current through regular salt (sodium chloride). The result is a toxic gas which can then be complexed to form many industrial products. Examples are: medicines, plastics, solvents, sealants, bleach, computer chips, paints and disinfectants. From here on, when we refer to ‘chlorine’, we mean the industrial type. Chlorine gas was a weapon used in World War I.
This powerful neurotoxin is so poisonous that it was outlawed by international war codes. Chlorine gas cannot be screened out by our lungs — it goes in faster than oxygen, and is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream when it is inhaled. If the concentration is adequate, death is instantaneous. Swimming pools in most of Europe are not chlorinated. When European athletes come to the U.S. to compete in swimming events, they have forfeited events rather than swim in a chlorinated pool. The problem is that chlorine gas is formed where chlorinated water comes in contact with air.
That’s why your nose burns when you put your face close to the surface of a chlorinated pool. Same thing happens with tap water, although to a lesser degree. Chlorine has been used in the U.S. as a treatment for water purification. When added to our water supply, chlorine complexes with free contaminants like iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide. Any chlorine left over can kill most bacteria and microorganisms.
Chlorine was definitely responsible for a radical drop in cases of typhoid early in the century. Same with cholera and amoebic dysentery. Giardia (which cause diarrhoea and nausea) are resistant to chlorine because they form protective cysts. But most other living microbes in the water supply are killed by adding chlorine.
Now obviously we don’t want germs in our drinking water, so it seems chlorine has some benefit. The problem comes in with the amounts of chlorine added. Chemicals are measured in water in units called PPM, or parts per million. The standard amount of chlorine sufficient to kill biologicals is 0.5 PPM, as agreed by most scientists. This is the recommended dose for municipal water supplies. The problem arises when scientists don’t have control of the input. Some cities have been found to have levels as high as 50 PPM.
The second problem is by-products. Chlorine has an annoying habit of reacting with hydrocarbons (organic matter) to form little devils like trihalomethanes (THMs). These THMs are definitely cancer forming. THM levels have been set by the EPA as not to exceed 80 PPB. But this figure is really just a guess. Nobody really knows for sure how much THM is necessary to be taken in with daily tap water in order to eventually cause a single cell to mutate. All we know for sure is that some amount of THM can cause cancer.
For the past century, industry has benefited from the weird reaction between chlorine and organic matter. So far about 11,000 different organochlorines have been created by the chemical industry. Some of them have great industrial value because they are so stable. They degrade very slowly. One obvious example is PVC pipe, which has revolutionized the plumbing industry in the past 15 years. PVC plastic is the single biggest application of industrial chlorine products, accountng for about 50% of the total. Really stable.
But it is precisely the fact of stability that makes chlorine by-products so dangerous. Want to learn a new word? Here it is: bioaccumulative. When these plastics do degrade, the products of that breakdown last even longer — for decades. That means cumulative build-up in the fatty tissues of living things that are exposed to the same water or air. In the cells, this can mean trouble: genetic mutation, hormone disruption, birth defects, infertility, low sperm counts, cancer and neurological damage. Bioaccu-mulative means that these chlorine by-products keep going through the food chain time after time. The individual living carrier species die, but the chemicals persist unchanged, decade after decade.