The Side Effects of Chlorine And Your Respiratory System

side effects of chlorineWhere is Chlorine Found?

Chlorine, often used as an anti-bacterial disinfectant, is a common element that is found in household cleaners, chemical manufacturing processes, and swimming-pool maintenance supplies. It is also found in most municipal water supplies, since it has been added to our tap water since the late 19th Century. This concentrated chlorine is often introduced into city and town water to combat any residual bacteria from treated sewage water that has been recycled back into the water supply. In addition, chlorine disinfects the distribution pipes to our homes and businesses.

Most of us encounter chlorine in a more concentrated form only rarely in household cleaning products, and in pool-maintenance supplies. We may encounter chlorine in a less concentrated composition when swimming in our backyard pool, or in a public swimming facility. We also, of course, encounter chlorine, though in much less concentrated amounts, in our municipal water supply. We use our tap water for drinking, cooking, and washing clothes. We also shower in that same tap water, and therein lay some problems.

The Hidden Dangers When We Shower

Chlorine, when combined with water, reacts with other inorganic solids in the water to form chlorine salts. When combined with organic solids, the chlorine in our tap water forms chlorinated organic reactants. As we take a soothing, hot shower, the steam from the shower is not the only result of vaporizing hot water. The chlorine in our shower water is also vaporizing to form, essentially, chlorine gas. Since chlorine is most damaging as an inhalant, our respiratory systems are, quite plainly, at risk every time we shower in our tap water.

Unless we have a filter installed on the showerhead, we are, throughout the duration of our shower, breathing a significant amount of chlorine gas. We can, in most cases, actually smell the chlorine in the steam. This chronic exposure to low-levels of chlorine often results in some damage to the respiratory tract, especially in those who have pre-existing breathing difficulties, such as asthma, or chronic bronchitis.

side effects of chlorineRespiratory Side Effects Caused by Chlorine in Your Shower Water

Even for those with reasonably healthy respiratory systems, the results of showering with unfiltered water might include such respiratory symptoms as:

• Irritated nasal passages
• A weak cough
• Increased dryness in the throat
• Sneezing
• Mild sore throat
• Tightness in the chest

In extreme cases, more severe respiratory symptoms could result from chronic exposure to low levels of vaporized chlorine. One such disorder is Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS). This condition will most often manifest itself in such symptoms as increased airway activity, asthma, and, in rare cases, bloody sputum – spitting up blood. Admittedly RADS is a fairly unusual reaction to chlorine from simply showering daily. If, however, pre-existing respiratory problems exist, this condition could, simply by frequent showering with unfiltered water, be aggravated by the chlorine and its byproducts, causing breathing difficulties.

The reason we may experience such discomfort from showering with chlorinated water is that chlorine is attacking the moisture-rich mucus membranes in our respiratory systems. Thus, the chlorine in our shower water is irritating the mucus membranes in:

• the nasal mucosa,
• the trachea,
• the larynx,
• the pharynx, and
• the bronchi.

Though usually mild, these symptoms are a sign that steps aught to be taken to reduce, or better yet, eliminate our exposure to unfiltered chlorinated shower water, especially steaming hot shower water.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

There are alternatives to the rather extreme and unhygienic remedy of refusing to ever shower again. The installation of a showerhead water filter is the quickest, easiest, least expensive, and most effective way to reduce our exposure to the chlorine found in our municipal water. Many of us, after all, are concerned enough about the chlorine in our water to install filters on the taps that we drink from. Why not take that sensible idea to the shower head, as well? It’s time we all breathe easier, and healthier, again.


Though there are other types of shower filters available, such as carbon filters, and Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) filters, none has been proven as effective or as beneficial to both the body and the environment as a Vitamin C shower filter. Since refusing to ever shower again would be a somewhat unclean solution to the problem of chlorinated water, the use of a Vitamin C shower filter makes the most sense.

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