Chloroform-Free Showers   1 comment

I got a nice surprise this weekend when we went to the hardware store to get grass seed. While we were there I figured we could swing by the showerheads and find out if they have any filters for chlorine. Filtering the shower for chlorine is something that has been on my pre-pregnancy list that I’ve been dreading because I hate shopping. I figured that we would end up going through several showerheads in an attempt to find one that would satisfy both my husbands desire for good spray and my desire for low flow and chlorine filtration. In order to rule out “easy” I wanted to check Lowe’s to verify that there are no “easy” chlorine filtering showerheads available. Guess what? I was wrong! Yay!

Backing up a bit, you might be wondering why I want to filter chlorine out of the shower water. You might be wondering what chlorine is doing in the water in the first place. Well, the chlorine is there because it has to be. Water agencies/companies are required to maintain a certain concentration of free chlorine in the water all the way to your tap. The purpose: health. Chlorine is a disinfectant. Even now that many water agencies are switching to other less toxic/dangerous primary disinfection methods, they still need to add chlorine so that the water remains clean all the way to the tap. That’s all well and good, but when we heat the water up for a warm/hot shower, that chlorine volatilizes. I remember that in the human exposures class I took in grad school we did the calculation for how much chloroform we are exposed to during a hot shower, and I remember being astounded by the answer. On top of the inhalation of chlorine vapors, our skin absorbs a lot of chlorine when immersed in water as well. Looking back over my course notes, I found a peer reviewed article about chloroform that mentions a study that calculated 40 micrograms of chloroform inhaled and another 40 micrograms absorbed through the skin during a 10 minute shower.

Doing some post-purchase research into the chlorine-filtering showerhead that we bought, it does not work like a carbon filter that adsorbs the chlorine, but it works through a chemical reaction (a redox reaction) to convert the free and combined chlorine into chloride, which does not vaporize and apparently doesn’t get readily absorbed by the skin (I’m not positive about that, though). I’m assuming that most showerhead chlorine filters will use something like this rather than the bulky slow carbon filters that you would put on a sink faucet. According to their website, the filter media can be disposed of easily by dumping it on the dirt in your yard or garden, and then the filter cartridge is recyclable. That’s pretty cool. It’s a 2.5 gallons per minute showerhead, so it doesn’t really qualify as low-flow, though. I still need to actually measure the flow rate to verify. In any case, the showerhead that it is replacing is one of those rain style showerheads that use a lot of water. Oh, and it was cheap, only $26.

All in all, this was an awesome surprise. Pros: chlorine filtration, no long difficult shopping process, cheap, disposal by compost and recycling, and my husband is happy with the spray. Cons: not really low-flow, and packaged in a plastic clamshell. When we get around to dealing with the other bathroom, I might get a separate chlorine filter so that we can also have a low flow shower head. We’ll see.

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Posted October 13, 2010 by mayakey in home, personal care, pre-pregnancy, water use

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One response to “Chloroform-Free Showers

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  1. that’s new information for me but its very useful!!
    i never guessed that

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