Dangers of Daily Showers: Getting You In Hot Water
By Dr. Dana Myatt
What should be a relaxing, cleansing daily health ritual may actually be one of the most dangerous things you do every day. Let’s look at why your daily shower is far more dangerous than you know, and how you can reclaim your daily shower as a truly healing ritual.
What’s in Your Water?
Over 315 different chemicals have been identified in municipal water sources around the country. There are no federal testing guidelines for more than half of these chemicals.
Of the remainder, as many as 49 have been found in levels above that allowed by law. This means that 53.6 million Americans are exposed to dangerously high levels of contaminants in municipal water! (1)
Unregulated contaminants include antibiotics, statin drugs, pain medications, “head meds” like Prozac and estrogens among others.(2)
If unintended contaminants — including drinking your neighbor’s drug-filled toilet-water — isn’t disgusting enough, remember that the deliberately added chemicals chlorine and fluoride, carry their own risks.
Chlorine, added to kill bacteria, combines with organic matter to form chloroform, trihalomethanes (THMs) and other Disinfection By-Products (DCP’s). According to the U.S. Government, these chemicals “result in adverse effects on the central nervous system, liver, kidneys and heart” and are also potent carcinogens. (3)
Fluoride in the form of hexafluorosilicic acid, a waste product of the fertilizer industry, vaporizes to hydrogen fluoride (HF).
According to the U.S. Government, HF is highly corrosive to the lungs, “irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and inhalation may cause respiratory irritation or hemorrhage. Systemic effects can occur from all routes of exposure and may include nausea, vomiting, gastric pain, or cardiac arrhythmia. Symptoms may be delayed for several days, especially in the case of exposure to dilute solutions of hydrogen fluoride (less than 20%).” At the highest doses, HF is lethal.(4)
Alrighty Then… Let’s Take a Shower
Many people realize that municipal water is often contaminated, and they take steps to drink pure water, like buying bottled water or a filter for the sink. But exposure to contaminants from your shower water are up to 62% more deadly. (9) Why is that so?
Exposure to the chemicals in your shower are more dangerous than drinking the same water because I.) your pores are open and toxins can be readily absorbed through the skin and II.) you also inhale the toxic vapors of chlorine and fluoride by-products.
In the case of a shower, the longer you spend under that nice warm running water, the more toxins you are exposed to.(5-6). The greatest observed increases in trihalomethane concentrations in blood and breath were seen from hot water use, specifically showering and hand-washing.(7)
Studies have shown that the amount of these volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) from the shower and other indoor hot-water uses (such as the vapors exhausting from your dishwasher) are “significant.” When THM’s are measured in the blood, showering contributed to a 64% increase compared to swimming in pools at 23%, bathing 12%, and drinking water 1%. The total THM uptake is much higher from showering than any other use of treated water.(9)
Reclaim Your Shower as a Healing Ritual
Part of reclaiming your daily shower as a true healing ritual includes making sure that your shower water is pure. This may be even more important than ensuring pure drinking water.
Shower-head filters are inexpensive and reliable. I recommend a shower water filter for anyone using municipal water.
Aquasana Water Purifiers makes some of the highest-rated filters at the best prices.
Save 20% off Shower Filtration Systems and receive free S&H with this Aquasana coupon!
1.) Environmental Working Group National Drinking Water Data Base. http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/home . Accessed 07/28/10.
2.) Associated Press Investigation: Pharmaceuticals Found in Drinking Water.
http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/pharmawater_site/day1_05.html . Accessed 07/28/10.
3.) Trihalomethanes: Health Information Summary.
4.) Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Fluoride (HF). Dept. of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mhmi/mmg11.html#bookmark02
5.) Wilkes CR, Small MJ, Davidson CI, Andelman JB. Modeling the effects of water usage and co-behavior on inhalation exposures to contaminants volatilized from household water. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 1996 Oct-Dec;6(4):393-412. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9087861
6.) Haddad S, Tardif GC, Tardif R. Development of physiologically based toxicokinetic models for improving the human indoor exposure assessment to water contaminants: trichloroethylene and trihalomethanes. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2006 Dec;69(23):2095-136.
7.) Nuckols JR, Ashley DL, Lyu C, Gordon SM, Hinckley AF, Singer P.Influence of tap water quality and household water use activities on indoor air and internal dose levels of trihalomethanes.Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Jul;113(7):863-70.
8.) Lourencetti C, Ballester C, Fernández P, Marco E, Prado C, Periago JF, Grimalt JO. New method for determination of trihalomethanes in exhaled breath: applications to swimming pool and bath environments.Anal Chim Acta. 2010 Mar 3;662(1):23-30. Epub 2010 Jan 11.
9.) Villanueva CM, Gagniere B, Monfort C, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Cordier S. Sources of variability in levels and exposure to trihalomethanes. Environ Res. 2007 Feb;103(2):211-20. Epub 2006 Dec 26.
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