Studies Show Increased Risks of Cancer by Drinking, Bathing, or Swimming in Chlorinated Water
The findings are the first to suggest that these chemicals can be harmful when they are inhaled or absorbed through the skin, as well as when they are ingested.
In a Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona study, Dr. Cristina Villanueva and colleagues found that… people who had been exposed to chlorinated water for five years or more were at a 46 percent greater risk of bladder cancer than those with less exposure.
The researchers compared the drinking, bathing, and swimming habits of 2,941 bladder cancer patients with those of 7,843 healthy people. They found that people who had been exposed to tap water containing chlorine or bromine used to disinfect water can produce by-products that have been tied to increased all types of cancer risks
Villanueva and her colleagues point out that the most prevalent form of chlorination by-products, trihalomethanes (THM), can be absorbed through skin and inhalation as well.
To explore the relationship between lifetime exposure to trihalomethanes (THMs) and bladder cancer, researchers matched 1,219 individuals who had been diagnosed with bladder cancer with 1,271 people from similar backgrounds who did not have the disease, having them report how frequently they drink chlorinated water, swim in pools or hose down with it.
The researchers found that people living in households with an average household trihalomethane concentration above 8 micrograms per liter had double the risk of bladder cancer compared to those who lived in districts where water contained less than 49 micrograms/liter. Trihalomethanes (THM) levels of about 50 micrograms per liter are common in industrialized societies, they note.
People who consumed chlorinated water were 35% more likely to get bladder cancer than those who didn’t, while people exposed regularly to swimming pools faced a 57% greater risk. And those who took longer showers or baths and lived in municipalities with higher trihalomethanes (THM) levels were also at increased cancer risks.
Trihalomethanes (THM), which are absorbed through the skin or lungs, may have a stronger carcinogenic effect than when they enter through the stomach due to detoxification by the liver.
The implications of these studies are significant since it shows that even low-level exposure to these contaminants carries a risk to public health.
Chlorine is a widely researched chemical element that is used in various industries and applications. Several research studies have been conducted on chlorine, including its use in water treatment systems, disinfection of wastewater, and its effectiveness in eliminating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A review article on the mechanism of chlorine disinfection in wastewater discusses the removal of disinfection by-products (DBPs) and the efficiency of the water treatment process with chlorine. Another research paper focuses on the effectiveness of disinfectant residuals in the distribution system, demonstrating that free chlorine is able to provide 99.99% inactivation of viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides information on chlorine and its uses in various industries. The NIOSH Worker Notification Program notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of these research studies.
The American Journal of Epidemiology https://academic.oup.com/aje/
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