Toxic showers? Why you should invest in a shower filter

When we moved across the country from Massachusetts to Illinois, one of the first things I noticed was that the water here tastes different, and not in a good way. Sensing that something was amiss, I dove into researching water quality reports (which, I discovered, is not an exercise for the weak-hearted!). It’s insane to find out what they are dumping in our water and how tolerant government-mandated “safe levels” are (not to mention that there are hundreds of untracked chemicals that do not even make it onto the reports).

As I was reading about drinking water, I came across alarming research on the chemicals we are exposed to as we shower: not only are we absorbing whatever (unfiltered) chemicals are present in the water through our skin, but more importantly, we are also inhaling these chemicals as water vapor. All of these unfiltered toxins are going straight into our bloodstream - yikes! It never crossed my mind that my morning shower could be so problematic.

As an example, let’s look at chlorine, one of the most common chemicals in our water. We absorb 100 times more chlorine in a short, ten-minute shower than we would from drinking one gallon of the same water. Moreover, heated chlorine (i.e., in a hot shower) can transform into chloroform, a known carcinogen. Chlorine and other chemicals in our water can also result in dry skin and hair, and can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis).

Action Steps:

Thankfully, by installing a shower filter, we can minimize our exposure to at least some of these toxins. A whole-house filtration system is another more comprehensive (but more expensive) solution.

To ensure that you purchase the most effective filter, first look at your area’s water quality report (a quick google search should bring it up). Next, use this NSF database to research filters that address the contaminants specific to the water in your town. Individual research is important, as there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution - these chemicals can vary greatly from place to place due to the different industries polluting your water source as well as your town's water treatment cocktail.

With these simple steps and a little bit of research, you can mitigate this significant source of daily toxic exposure (yay!).