Chlorine is one of those things that’s very difficult to avoid either in our drinking water, bath, shower or public swimming. While it’s added to our drinking water and bathing water to kill bacteria which is of course a GOOD thing in theory, because it means many pathogens are killed before they make us sick, chlorine isn’t that crash hot for us. Chlorine produces these little nasties called “disinfection by-products” and we need to try to minimise our exposure to them. If you caught my podcast with Professor Marc Cohen recently, you’ll have heard he’s trying to work on research to convince policy makers there’s a way to protect us from pathogens in drinking and pool water, that DOESN’T have to involve chlorine. Chlorine is shown to damage skin, respiratory and digestive systems over time. There’s a worthy case indeed for it not being in our drinking water, if you read this MOTHER JONES exposé here.
Children swimmers are more likely to develop asthma than non-swimmers and their bodies absorb chlorine at a faster rate than adults. Also if your child swims competitively, this also increases their chlorine absorption rate because chlorine most commonly enters the body through the airways and competitive swimmers are quite simply, breathing more often and more heavily around chlorinated pools. A study from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in 2000, shows several links between higher instances of diseases such as melanoma, bladder and rectal cancers to regular chlorinated pool swimmers. There have been many studies on the effects of chlorine and very few have been confirmed by toxicology studies, but it’s still useful information to have and if we can lessen our exposure to something that could be quite harmful, let’s do it. I’m a big believer in the precautionary principle.
Choose your swim club wisely – scope it out for ventilation if you have a choice between a few.
And as always, the great news is you can mitigate harmful effects in a few ways too!
1. Prevent chlorine itch and skin issues stemming from chlorine exposure
Have you ever had a chlorine rash? Red and bumpy skin after you’ve been in the pool or the shower for a long time? It’s a bit nasty but there are plenty of natural remedies for it. You can use ice cubes to cool down the itch – added bonus of keeping you chilled on a hot day. You can also use homemade scrubs with sugar and almond oil or sugar and olive oil. You can try my coconut caramel lemon body scrub! Adding 1/2 a cup of baking soda to your bath can also help if the rash won’t go away.
Removing chlorine from your shower is a huge benefit and his shower filter is awesome – it removes the chlorine from your shower and it helps to remove nasty irritants that can cause things like eczema and dry skin. They’re really easy to install and they’re a good way to cut down on your daily exposure to chlorine. If you’re not regular at your local, the shower is where you need to cut down on your chlorine exposure.
At the pool? Apply a good thick moisturiser on before you get into the pool. A simple olive or coconut oil is fine and cheap or whatever one you use if you have a preference.
2. Use Vitamin C in the bath
A neat little trick to minimise chlorine in your bath water is to add a tablespoon of vitamin c powder for every bath. There are two types of vitamin c that will neutralise chlorine in water – ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate, so you can use either of them and a pharmacy cheap and cheerful is fine. Vitamin C will also neutralise chloramine which is chlorine and ammonia, which is perfect for little ones who sometimes wee in the tub. Pop it in as you’re running the bath, wait a minute before getting into the bath, open a window for vapour ventilation and voila! Want to nerd out scientifically on how exactly it neutralises the chlorine? Be my guest. Warning: It’s a dry read! 😉
There’s also this hot off the press “bath softener” from Nourished Life if you wanted to try something a little fancier than you’re ol’ chemist Vit C powder.
3. Protect your hair and body
Before you go near chlorinated water, rub some coconut oil on your body and on the lengths of your hair and give it 5 minutes to absorb. It creates a barrier between the chlorine and you and slows down the rate at which you will absorb the chlorine. It prevents that nasty, brassy look in blond coloured hair, too. Also, consider wearing a swim cap! Did you know in most parts of Italy you’re not allowed in a public pool without a swim cap on? Not only do they protect your hair, they also stop it from falling out and clogging up the pool. After the pool just wash your hair gently with whatever low tox shampoo and conditioner you use.
You could use a gorgeous lux body scrub too that has natural oils in it, to create a barrier pre swim and make it a part of your self care pamper routine that you all have – right? right? Black Chicken’s is divine, as is the Birch Weleda one! On a budget? My 40 second coffee body scrub is luxurious and super, super inexpensive and quick to make!
4. Add Vitamin C powder to your low tox sunscreen
I’ve always added Vitamin C powder to my baths but adding it to your regular low tox sunscreen is also apparently a great idea. Tip: add it as you go, don’t just pop it straight in the bottle. Vitamin C powder will last a year in it’s jar but once you mix it with another compound like water or another kind of liquid it’s benefits decrease more quickly over time. Just mix 1/4 teaspoon of powder in to a big squirt of sunscreen and you’ll be right and neutralising chlorine while you swim, with the sunscreen forming a barrier also.
5. Consider a water filter for your drinking water
Whether or not you believe in removing fluoride from your drinking water which I’ve written a little bit about in the past HERE, it makes no sense to drink chlorine with its potential to damage our gut flora. The filter will also remove pesticide residues and a bunch of other stuff depending, so it’s a multitude of wins. There are so many to choose from these days, but here are a couple I love. I have both.
The Waters Co BMP 500 5.25L Bench Top Alkaline Water Filter removes up to 99.9% fluoride, something that no other filter has ever managed to do. The smart design features sleek black housing and a blue glass reservoir with tap outlet. The powerful, long-lasting filter holds 5.25 litres. The 5.25 Litre blue glass reservoir makes it ideal for domestic & light commercial use and it comes complete with a filter kit that will last an average of four years. As well as fluoride it also removes chlorine, chemicals, heavy metals and bacteria. Coral and silica sands in the filter re-mineralise the water, helping to keep your body in balance. Some of the key features include:
– 13 stages of sterilising, filtration & activation, multi stage cartridges contain:
– Sub micron prefilters
– Silver ionised activated coconut shell carbon,
– Ion exchange cation resin for 99.99% Fluoride removal
– Bio organic coral mineral sands
– Silica sands
– Far infrared ceramics
– Bio ceramic Somelite™
– Magnets and other patented filter medium.
I have the Southern Cross Pottery 12 Litre bench top water filter here pictured at home.
While filtering out all known contaminants, it leaves beneficial minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium in the drinking water, so you can enjoy maximum health benefits. The attractive, cost-effective design comes in a variety of styles so you can choose your favourite to brighten up your sink. It comes with a separate ceramic stand and is 260mm wide and 500mm high. Comes complete with the Fluoride Plus Filter which needs replacing every 12 months. Filter removes 99.9999% of Pathogenic Bacteria, Cysts, Sediment, Chloromines, Chlorine, Lead, 97% + Fluoride, Volatile Organic Components, Metals, Arsenic, Glyphosate and 99% of Nitrates.
So there you go. As with all things in the low tox life, it’s important not to panic, nor to believe you can ‘completely eradicate chlorine from your day to day’. Thirsty child at a cafe? Drink the tap water and appreciate it. No stress. Having a water filter at home and creating a barrier at swimming lessons and neutralising your bath are great, simple things to implement in the next couple of months, and the rest? Just go with the flow knowing your baseline at home is strong.
Low Tox. Happy Us. Happy Planet
Extra reading if you fancy