25.1.18 Erica Whisson, our Alkaway naturopath talks water health.
You probably didn’t take much notice of it when you were in high school, but chlorine is an element.
Chloramine, on the other hand, is the combination of chlorine and ammonia.
Both are used to disinfect drinking water. Chloramine is more stable than chlorine, but they basically do the same job.
Chlorine is the 21st most abundant element in the earth’s crust in the form of chloride.
As a solid, it is best known as sodium chloride, table salt.
There’s no need to get paranoid about chlorine if used correctly. Small amounts are beneficial in the human body. You need it to make hydrochloric acid, better known as stomach acid, and without it, we can’t break down and digest food.
Chlorine in Bullet Points
- A pale green gas
- Used by the Germans in WWI as a devastating chemical weapon.
- In high doses causes damage to respiratory tissues
- As a liquid it can dissolve gold
- A mild bleach once used in textiles
- Used as a disinfectant and sterilizing agent to clean wounds
- A combination of chlorine and ammonia.
- Stable and slow releasing form of chlorine
- A powerful disinfectant
Chloramines should be removed from water used for dialysis, aquariums, hydroponic applications, and homebrewing beer.
Chloramines can interfere with dialysis, can hurt aquatic animals.
They can give home-brewed beer a medicinal taste by forming chlorophenols. In hydroponic applications, it will stunt the growth of plants.
Oh yes… and we put them in our drinking water.
It has helped us.
Its addition to drinking water resulted in a dramatic reduction in cholera, dysentery, diphtheria and other water-borne diseases. As a disinfectant in water, it is great. Given the choice of chlorine or cholera, I will take chlorine every time.
But… its effects don’t stop at its disinfecting role.
On its own, chlorine is highly reactive (for the chemistry buffs, it is one electron short of a full octet), so free radical damage is going to happen.
It is a disinfectant – and that means it can kill things.. microorganisms generally.
But.. that same ability means it can also damage cell walls in humans. Cells are being damaged all the time, but do you really want to increase the damage that the body has to heal? I don’t. It happens every time you drink unfiltered tap water.
No, it isn’t a huge amount of damage. It just adds to the list of damaging toxic chemicals we put in our body.
But wait, there’s more!
The bad news doesn’t stop there. Chlorine reacts with other things in the water, including organic matter (leaves, dead animals etc) to form a whole slew of nasty by-products. These include trihalomethanes (THMs), haloacetic acids (HAAs), halonitromethanes (HNMs), haloacetonitriles (HANs), haloaldehydes (HAs), haloketones (HKs) and iodo-THMs (i-THMs). The industry usually lumps them all together under a conveniently innocuous term of disinfection by-products (DBPs).
It’s the DBPs (AKA Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s) that are harm burden for us humans.
Potential health risks of DBPs from drinking water include bladder cancer and possibly rectal cancer, early-term miscarriage, and birth defects. Trihalomethanes, by-products of chlorine-based disinfection processes, have long been recognized as carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and teratogenic.
Risks from swimming pool DBP exposures include asthma and other respiratory effects.
Breathing in chlorine and chloramines causes symptoms ranging from sensory irritation, to irritation and bronchospasm, to cellular changes to bronchioles and alveoli, to development of pulmonary disease. Chlorine and Chloramines are released really well in hot showers. Your shower is nice and warm and misty and full of chloramines.
The most common feedback we get from ladies who begin using our Sprite shower filter is that their skin regains its bloom. So.. what are they really saying? Chlorine had been wreaking havoc on their skin for all of their adult life, breaking down issue.. and now they are ‘repairing’.
On the equally scary side, if you are in an older dwelling you’ll probably have lead pipes, or lead solder in your pipes, or lead somewhere near your water supply. Chlorine will attack your solder joints and increase the lead levels in the water. Did someone say ‘Flint Illinois’? Don’t bother. It’s not just Flint. It’s more than 200 US cities. And more in Australia. And the UK. The EU has banned fluoride.
Chlorine and or chloramines in water are great for the job they do in making drinking water safer from microbial diseases, but after that they are potentially dangerous. The good thing is that they are easily removed from water.
Fluorine (note the ‘n’) is a lot like chlorine. It is extremely reactive and unstable. It is rarely found as fluorine on earth as it reacts with almost anything to become fluoride.
Fluoride was added to water as a way of treating all people with fluoride once it was discovered that fluoride can improve the health of teeth. Yes, there is quite a lot of scientific evidence that fluoride can help improve dental health. If applied topically.
There is less evidence that putting it in the drinking water has as strong an effect.
A bit of fluoride on the teeth can be great in reducing caries. Too much, however, leads to a mottled appearance on the enamel and decreased mineralisation of the teeth. But it’s what fluoride does in the rest of the body that fills me with alarm. And I’m not talking about lethal amounts. I’m talking about the level that we find in our water.
Excess fluoride accumulates in not only teeth, but also in cartilage, tendons, blood vessel walls and bones. It has been associated with bone abnormalities and cancers, calcification of ligaments, osteosclerosis, bony growths of the spine. But wait, there’s more. Birth defects, still births and early infant mortality (the last two are based on data from areas of India where excessive fluoride concentrations have been reported in groundwaters), and lower IQ.
This is quite scary enough, but to me the often overlooked – but really scary bit – is that it can result in iodine deficiency and the displacement of iodine from iodine receptors in the body.
Iodine receptors are in many places, but there are a lot in the thyroid. The body NEEDS iodine to make thyroid hormones. The thyroid does great things like maintaining the metabolism bubbling along at a good rate.
If you have an underactive thyroid you are likely to be overweight, have no energy and feel the cold (among other symptoms).
Think obesity and chronic fatigue.
Fluoride displaces iodine from thyroid hormones which result in the hormones not working. This leads to people taking thyroid stimulating drugs or thyroid hormone replacement drugs. I’m not saying that the removal of fluoride will cure and prevent all thyroid complications. But surely one less complicating factor has to be a good thing.
But wait, there’s more…
There is another rather frightening effect of fluoride in the body.
Fluoride and aluminium are great mates, and neither of them are good for us humans. On their own they are bad, put them together and they wreak havoc.
Aluminium cooking pots really are not a good idea.
Cooking in aluminium pots with fluoridated water concentrates aluminium to 600ppm. (this doesn’t happen with un- fluoridated water.) The aluminium that is created is in the form of aluminium fluoride. This little gem of a molecule easily crosses the blood brain barrier. Remember all those links of aluminium and Alzheimer’s? Well.. they may be due to aluminium fluoride, not the aluminium on its own at all. The fluoride is so much like iodine in structure that the blood brain barrier lets it through and the aluminium gets carried with it.
If that isn’t bad enough, wait there’s more. There are a number of enzymes, such as cholinersterase, DNA nucleases, and phosphatase that it inactivates. What this means in the body is:
brain function, the enzyme switch for the relaxation of any muscle
repair of DNA when it goes wrong
important in the absorption and metabolism of carbohydrates, nucleotides, and phospholipids and in the calcification of bones.
So.. fluoride directly on teeth at an appropriate dose? Probably a good thing. Constantly bombarding us in our drinking water? Not such a great idea.
At best you get mottled teeth.
At worst DNA damage, changes in brain function, decreased enzyme activity, deformed bones, lower IQ and birth defects.
Ian: Here at AlkaWay we constantly research ways to improve reduction of fluoride in our UltraStream. Over the last 10,000 UltraStreams produced we’ve already made three significant improvements in how we remove fluoride, and as long as our customers own their UltraStreams, they get the benefit of our research every time they change out their old filter.