CHLORINE, element No. 17 on the Periodic Table of Elements, has multiple applications. It is used to sterilize drinking water and to disinfect swimming pools, and it is used in the manufacturing of a number of commonly used products, such as paper, textiles, medicines, paints and plastics.
Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to drinking water to disinfect it and kill germs. While chlorine itself is relatively benign, and was created to help keep us free from waterborne disease, it reacts with organic materials which already dissolve in water, forming chemicals (known as DBP's) that are over 100 times more toxic than chlorine.
The most common DBP’s are Trihalomethanes (THM) – they are a group of four chemicals that are formed along with other disinfection by-products when chlorine is used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic and inorganic matter in water. The four THM’s are: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform.
LONG-TERM HEALTH EFFECTS
The long-term effects of chlorinated drinking water have just recently been recognized. According to the U.S. Council Of Environmental Quality, “Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.”At elevated levels, THMs have been associated with negative health effects such as cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes. Long term exposure to THM’s leads to cancer.