Take Showers or Baths? They could be Toxic. ~ James McMahon

Via elephant journal
on Mar 14, 2013
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Like many of you, I have a regular yoga practice. I also shower occasionally.

And, to some extent, I eat mostly organic and raw foods and try to stay healthy, vibrant, and fully alive.

So I avoid exposure to toxins as much as possible. This includes chlorinated city water.

This demonstration shows how quickly chlorine is absorbed by your skin.

There’s nothing magic about it. Your skin is like a sponge that soaks up the water in the glass and along with it the chemicals in that water.

The addition of chlorine to public water supplies essentially eliminated water borne disease. But chlorine itself is not without consequences. Chlorine is a poison, as we all know, and it’s absorbed in the skin in the shower and in the body when ingested. Chlorine ingestion has been linked to numerous cancers.

You can learn more about this by visiting by resource library here, which contains numerous articles on a variety of contaminants but in particular I’d like to point out these two:

  1. The Negative Health Effects of Chlorine by Joseph Hattersley. This study cites numerous negative consequences to those who consume chlorinated water. I encourage you to read this if you are at all interested. The effects on women and children are of particular interest.
  2. Disinfectants Create Toxic Byproducts—This study by the University of Illinois addresses some of the compounds created when chlorine interacts with organic material in water.

Disinfection byproducts are regulated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you’d like to confirm their presence in your water simply obtain a copy of your local water report. Your water provider is required to give this to you once each year.

The report will list the type of disinfection used, typically chlorine or chloramine (a toxic combination of chlorine and ammonia) and two groups of chemicals called the Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic acids. It is these two groups of compounds that are known carcinogens.

In order to drink and bathe in healthy water you need to remove the chlorine from your drinking water and from your shower water.

But it’s not as simple as going out and buying the first water filter you see. There are other contaminants that may influence your buying decision. For help in making that selection I suggest you watch this:

This is an important issue to maintaining your health. It is my hope that this information proves useful in guiding you.

It’s the things we do every day—eating organic food or ingesting pesticides or drinking appropriately filtered water or ingesting chlorine—that keeps us healthy or kills us in the end…


James P. McMahon studied ecology at the University of Illinois and deep ecology at Naropa University. Jim started Sweetwater LLC in September 2002. He works from his home overlooking the Santa Clara River in southern Utah. You can learn how to make your water healthy at cleanairpurewater.com.


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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger


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8 Responses to “Take Showers or Baths? They could be Toxic. ~ James McMahon”

  1. Greg says:

    Goofy. Why don't all or most swimmers who spend hours in chlorinated pools get cancer?

  2. lisa says:

    I have a whole house water filter, so no chlorine. however, only reverse osmosis filters out fluoride, so if your water source is fluoridated, you are showering/bathing in it. I was recently contacted by someone who told me that the bottom layer of dermis actually provides a safe barrier against absorption of toxins such as chlorine, fluoride, neurotoxins, etc.. While in response to comments concerning sunscreens, this is the person's claim:

    "he skin has three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and a lower subcutaneous fatty layer. The epidermis is where a layer of new protective cells grow and shed. The dermis is the skin's machine room, so to speak.

    No topical preparation (unless it is classified as a medicine and prescribed by a doctor) can pass through the barrier that lies between the dermis and the epidermis; therefore, any ingredients in over-the-counter sun screen will prevent the sun's rays getting through to the dermis, but they will not disrupt the endocrine system past that barrier."

    I could neither provide proof this person was wrong nor right.

    Do you have some science behind the idea that our skin "drinks" in these toxins and our organs are not protected by the dermis layer? I would appreciate some documentation on this. thank you. I always was in agreement with your point of view; however, as a holistic nutritionist and educator, i feel it is important to back up my information with objective science. thank you.

  3. Jim McMahon says:

    Hi Greg – apparently there is a correlation between swimming and bladder cancer. You can read more about that here: http://www.cleanairpurewater.com/images/stories/d


  4. Jim McMahon says:

    Hi Lisa – I'd like to see documentation also. In conversations on this topic with various people, water professionals, doctors, etc. there appears to be no clear cut answer. I think you're correct to regard the skin as a protective layer that separates the body from its environment. Yet I do not believe that layer is impermeable. Recall the acne medicine some years back that was applied to the skin and then linked to brain damage, or the claims by EWG about chemicals in make up entering our bodies (perhaps just hype – I don't know), or Organic Consumers Assoc suggesting a link between chlorine or pesticides and breast cancer. There are numerous examples of suggestions that the skin is an imperfect barrier. As an ecologist that makes sense to me. Barriers are generally permeable.

  5. Jim McMahon says:

    I think there is a difference between metals, such as fluoride, and liquids such as chlorine. I am more suspicious that liquids would be capable of penetrating that barrier. But if you are in a hot bath with your pores wide open what is to keep out the fluoride? And once in your skin what is the mechanism for removal? Sweating would be one. I would think that capillary blood flow would be another.

    I think we're still learning but I also think that the cumulative effects of exposure to low levels of toxins has much to do with disease in this country today.

  6. Jim McMahon says:

    Lisa – Pondering your question some more…the fact that there is a link between swimming in chlorinated pools and bladder cancer would also suggest that the skin is not the impermeable barrier some suggest. See link above.

  7. ashleycarrigan says:

    Hi Lisa! I was wondering what type of whole house water filter you have. We have one in our shower, on our sinks & of course a great water pitcher, but your comment caught my attention. Always interested in better options 🙂 Thank you!