When Professor Marc Cohen (AKA ‘Dr Marc’) asked what the best water filter was for his home, the answer was, “It depends”. Every type of filter has pros and cons and there is no one filter that ticks all the boxes. As Dr Marc says though, “you can either use a filter, or become one” and he set out to find the best technology currently available.
The Importance of Water
We know that water is essential to life. We have all heard that humans are around 70% water. While that’s true based on volume and mass, Dr Marc says that on a molecular level, we’re actually 99% water. As such, the quality of the water that we’re exposed to can significantly impact our health. According to an analysis just released by the EWG, substances in drinking water can even increase your risk of cancer.
Clean water is the cheapest way of improving health. On a large scale, this involves adding chlorine &/or chloramine to Municipal water supplies to kill common pathogenic bacteria. It does the job well, but with all we’re learning about the microbes responsible for 90% or more of our genetic expression, now the question is what effects are these chemicals having on our gut microbiome? These microbes help to control our thoughts, mood, diet, appetite, what food we want to eat and even who we want to be with. They also impact our gut permeability, nutrient uptake and immune function.
It’s not just the water we drink that matters, though. We’re exposed to 10x more water through bathing each day than what we drink and when water is heated, the chlorine and its by-products (such as trihalomethanes, or THMs) become volatile and are easily inhaled. The skin surface area of an average adult is around 2m2 and we’re covered is beneficial microbes. Our lungs have a surface area of around 150m2, or nearly the size of a tennis court, with a high permeability to allow the normal exchange of gasses to & from our bloodstream. As such, there’s probably no part of our body not affected by the chlorine.
Here are the ‘10 Calamities of Chlorine‘ by Dr Marc:
1) Chlorine is a potent poison
Chlorine is so toxic to bacteria it makes great disinfectants, antiseptics, pesticides and antibiotics. The acrid smell of chlorine can be detected above 0.1 ppm, inhaling 1- 4 ppm damages the lungs, above 40 ppm causes acute chest pain, shortness of breath, and cough, and above 400 ppm is fatal.
2) Chlorine has many toxic forms
Chlorine gas was used to kill soldiers in the First World War. Chlorine bleach and disinfectants produce toxic disinfection by-products. Organochlorines like DDT are persistent pollutants that accumulate in the food chain. Chlorofluorocarbons are volatile compounds toxic to the ozone layer. PVC releases dioxins and other hazardous waste into the environment.
3) Chlorine is toxic when ingested
Chlorine forms poisonous acids in the body and its disinfection by-products such as Trihalomethanes are known to cause cancer and birth defects. Persistent exposure to low levels of chlorine and its by-products in contaminated drinking water and food may lead to gut dysbiosis and a wide range of chronic diseases.
4) Chlorine is toxic on skin
Chlorine in bathing water directly irritates and dries out skin and hair and may alter the skin microflora leading to skin dysbiosis. Chlorine may cause or aggravate many diseases including psoriasis, allergies, eczema, contact dermatitis, acne, poor wound healing, skin ulcers, dandruff, yeast and fungal infections, rosacea, and accelerated skin aging.
5) Chlorine is toxic when inhaled
Chlorine and its volatile by-products are released when chlorinated water is heated and are easily inhaled. Chlorine irritates the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose and respiratory tract and causes immediate or delayed symptoms including watering eyes, sneezing, sinus congestion, coughing, choking, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and death.
6) Chlorine is volatile
Chlorine and its volatile by-products avoid the first-pass metabolism in your liver by being directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the large surface area of your lungs and skin. Exposure to hot water through bathing, showering, dishwashing or other activities, therefore, produces greater exposure to disinfection by-products than exposure through drinking.
7) Chlorine is more toxic for the young
Chlorinated water is associated with higher rates of stillbirths and birth defects. Infants and young children’s skin, eyes, respiratory tract and developing microbiome are more sensitive to chlorine and its by-products, which may contribute to the development and aggravation of asthma, hay fever, allergies, skin irritation and gut dysbiosis.
8) Chlorine leads to leaks
Chlorine and its volatile by-products can erode flexible, braided water hoses leading to leaks and plumbing failure when chlorine-based cleaners and disinfectants are stored nearby. Chlorine can also cause pinhole pitting in copper pipes and cause leaks and water damage to buildings and the development of dampness, moisture and mould.
9) Chlorine leaches lead
Chlorine and its by-products are corrosive agents and they combine with pH, alkalinity, temperature, oxidation potential, and other chemicals to leach lead from pipes, solder and ‘lead-free’ brass plumbing fixtures. Lead in drinking water leads to neurotoxicity, and stunted cognitive development, learning disabilities, attention difficulties and antisocial behaviour in children.
10) Chlorine makes hazardous waste
Chlorine-based products such as PVC produce dioxins and other hazardous Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) when they are burned. POPs are toxic to human and wildlife at low levels, do not degrade easily, are distributed around the globe through long-range environmental transport, and bioaccumulate up the food chain in fatty tissue.
An Increasingly Toxic World
Chlorine and chloramine are not the only toxins in our water. There’s a saying that “the solution to pollution is dilution”, and for the last century in particular, humans have discharged all sorts of toxins into sewers, streams, rivers and oceans with this idea that it would just wash away. However, we have now created so much pollution that it doesn’t just disappear. Testing was done on the breastmilk of a native tribe in New Guinea who lived 2000km away from agriculture and an elevation of 2000m and DDT (an organochlorine) was found that they’d never been exposed to in any other way. These chemicals are part of the water cycle now and fall in rain and enter underground aquifers world-wide. In the last few decades, we’ve seen an average loss 2/3 of all species on Earth, increasing to around 78% near ‘fresh’ water.
Common pollutants in our drinking water include:
- pharmaceutical drugs (including the oral contraceptive pill and antibiotics)
- herbicides (such as glyphosate)
- heavy metals
- mould spores
- radioactive materials
- fire retardants
Even if you are on tank water, many of these pollutants are still in the water, so filtration is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. I find our garden plants suffer when watered with tap water, my gut issues get so much worse and when I run a bath for my young daughter, the bathroom smells like an indoor swimming pool.
Whole-House Water Filters
Dr Marc’s motto is “drinking less poison is good for you”. The man has a point! However, as we can see above, we also need to consider what’s in ALL the water coming into our homes.
Aragon filter cartridges offer the latest in water filter technology, being 20x more effective than common ion-exchange filters. Testing in both Europe and America show they remove 100% of viruses and chlorine, 99.999% of sediments, around 95% of chloramine, pathogens, pesticide residues, pharmaceutical drugs, and parasites, and reduce fluoride by about half. As a bonus, the calcium in the water is reduced to a smaller, more crystalline structure that does not form scale deposits, which means less scrubbing of tiles and shower screens, your hot water cylinder and appliances will last longer, your skin and hair will feel softer and less irritated, and it’s kinder on your digestive tract and kidneys.
Having a whole-house filter will give you the comfort of knowing you can drink, cook, shower, bathe, groom your pets and irrigate your plants using water free from toxic contaminants such as chlorine, chloramines, pesticides, heavy metals, hardness salts, dissolved and colloidal iron, radioactive materials, sediment, and a range of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, cysts, mould spores and residues from pharmaceutical drugs.
Those of you who create your own ferments & sourdough will also know how important it is to use purified water, free from chlorine and other substances that may damage the beneficial microbes.
The Big Blue twin filter system is designed for use where a high flow rate is needed, either domestically or in commercial premises. With a flow rate of 50 L/min, the whole family can enjoy filtered water at the same time (most showerheads have a flow rate of 7-9 L/min to give you an idea). They come with a 5 year warranty and you can choose between UV-stabilised polypropylene casing that should last outdoors around 15 years or stainless steel casing that will likely last a lifetime. Big Blue filters also meet AU/NZ WaterMark Standards.
View the brochure HERE.
I know a lot of people are concerned about fluoride and I’m one who’d love to see the end of mass medication through water fluoridation (a topic for another day). However, the only way to remove 100% of fluoride is through reverse osmosis which does not allow for the fast flow needed for showers, baths, dishwashers and washing machines. If you do want a reverse osmosis system for drinking and cooking water, there are countertop or below sink systems available. The reverse osmosis process takes out everything from the water, but that can leave it “dead” and devoid of minerals that help the water get into our cells to hydrate them. The systems I’ve linked to have an extra cartridge to add alkaline minerals back into the purified water which help the water to enter your cells for proper hydration.
For more general information on why we need to reduce our exposure to toxins, you can also read a great article by Dr Marc about the ‘10 Toxic Truths‘.
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