Remove harmful chemicals from your shower with shower filters

November 3, 2015

We frequently think about the purity of our drinking water, but what about the water we wash with? Here's a brief overview of potential contaminants in your shower water and why it's important to use filters.

Remove harmful chemicals from your shower with shower filters

1. What's in your water?

Many Canadian cities add chlorine to their public water system. This ensures the safety of drinking water, because chlorine kills microorganisms that cause disease. However, chlorine can react with organic matter (such as leaves floating in a reservoir) to form various harmful chemicals including chloroform.

According to Health Canada, studies have shown these by-products of water disinfectants to increase the risk of cancer when ingested by mouth. Unfiltered water may also contain hydrogen sulfide, iron, lead and other heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds.

2. Problems caused by chlorine in shower water

Showering in chlorinated water can cause hair to dry out and break more easily, and chlorine compounds can irritate your skin. More concerning is the fact that your skin is not an impervious waterproof covering; it's an organ and it absorbs whatever chemicals it comes in contact with. You may actually take in more chlorine through your skin from daily showering than from drinking city water.

Also, heating water containing chlorine and its by-products can release these compounds into the air you breathe, bringing them into your lungs. They may also circulate through your household ventilation system, which can lead to allergies and other respiratory problems.

3. Types of filters and how they work

Carbon and granulated active charcoal can filter out some chlorine and any extra organic matter. This type of filter can also eliminate volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) such as benzene, trichloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, toluene and xylene. However, carbon filters don't work as well when they're placed right on the shower-head because high heat and pressure affect their function.

A vitamin-C based filter, which is less common, can eliminate both chlorine and chloramines. Cation-exchange water softeners are additionally able to remove calcium and magnesium from the water, although it's sometimes a trade-off because these water softeners work by adding sodium chloride (table salt) or potassium chloride, and this can create a potential health problem from too much sodium. If you add a filter to the entire water system of your home, Health Canada recommends that the filter be properly certified.

Just as you watch what your family eats, it's important to pay attention to what everyone is introducing into their bodies when they shower. Installing a filter at your shower head or in your home's water system is a straightforward way of protecting your family's health.

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