Over 98 percent of all U.S. water utilities and municipal water agencies use chlorine or chlorine derivatives for killing harmful pathogens in the drinking water. Chlorine derivatives such as chloramines are used to prevent microbial buildup when the water travels through the water distribution pipes.
How chlorine kills the harmful bacteria?
When chlorine or chlorine based products are added to water, it breaks into hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. These two agents attack the lipids (fat molecules) in the bacterial cell wall and destroy the enzymes thereby destroying the structure of the cells. This is how they destroy the harmful bacteria in water. But remember, chlorine has no ability to identify the good bacteria from the bad and that is where the problem is. Please read on.
What about fluorine?
Along with this, another issue to consider is the addition of fluorine in the drinking water for preventing tooth decay. As per CDC’s 2010 Water Fluoridation Statistics, 73% of US population is receiving artificially fluoridated water through their municipal water supply. And CDC’s goal for fluoridation is to cover 80% of the population by the year 2020.
So you may ask, how is this related to my stomach?
Understand that the human digestive system is the home for about 100 trillion microorganisms. These microbes colonize inside our intestine. Their number is more than ten times the number of cells in the entire human body. These microbes interact in harmony and they are collectively called the intestinal micro flora.
How do these bacteria get inside my gut?
While a human baby is inside its mother’s womb, the baby’s intestinal tract is pretty sterile and devoid of any microbes. During baby’s birth and quickly thereafter, bacteria from the mother and the surrounding environment colonize the infant’s gut. Studies have found that vaginal birth helps to establish the gut flora of the child much faster (within a month) compared to a baby born by caesarian section – where it can take up to six months for the micro flora to establish inside the baby’s intestine.
It is estimated that an adult human in good health has about four pounds (2kg) of these bacteria inside their intestine. They play a critical role in digestion, absorption and in your immune system. Without this micro flora, humans probably would not survive. In addition, as per National Institute of Health article, these bacteria form a natural defense barrier and exert numerous protective, structural and metabolic effects on the epithelium helping us from several types of infections and disorders. They protect us from many pathogenic bacteria entering our stomach through our food.
What can kill the bad guys can also kill the good guys:
OK, we understand the need for chlorinating municipal and city water to kill harmful microbes that can make us sick.
But the problem is, the same chlorine that can kill the harmful microbes can also kill the good bacteria. Just the consumption of alcohol alone is found to affect the good bacteria; yet the public is never made aware of the negative effect of chlorine and fluorine on the intestinal micro flora which are very critical for our survival. The negative impact of this can vary from individual to individual depending on how quickly their stomach enzymes and acids are able to neutralize chlorine and fluorine.For a large section of the population, the medicine to kill the pathogenic bacteria or reduce tooth decay (chlorine and fluorine) themselves can cause diseases by killing the beneficial bacteria which protects us by providing immunity from various diseases.
As an individual what can you do?
We can accept the fact that the addition of chlorine and fluorine in drinking water is a necessary evil. In the near future, or may be during our lifetime, the government policy will not change about adding chlorine and fluorine in the drinking water. So the most feasible thing we can do is to remove chorine/fluorine from the water before we consume it in our home. This is where good chlorine filters come into play. A good filtration system can not only remove chlorine and fluorine, they can also remove other water contaminants and sediments as well as bad taste and odor problems.
What is next?
Review our articles on selecting water filtration systems for your home.