Aaah, bathtime. It conjures up images of Ernie singing “Rubber Ducky” and bubbles and toys…and let’s be honest, a few minutes of peace and happiness for parents everywhere. But did you know that instead of getting your kiddos clean, your kid’s nightly bath could be making them sick?
I read this blog from Holistic Squid this summer, and as we have a pool, it got me to thinking…what about the chlorine in our bathtubs? In our house, we already filter out our drinking and cooking water with a Berkey that’s equipped with chlorine filters, and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
But what about bathtime, when my kids sit in a bathtub filled with chlorinated tap water for thirty minutes at a time? Our skin is our biggest organ. Think about all the pharmaceutical drugs being developed now that are designed to be used transdermally. And because baths are warm, they cause our pores to open up even more, increasing the amount of water—and chlorine—that’s absorbed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one of the most common methods of workplace injury is because of dermal (skin) exposure to toxic chemicals, and they recommend elimination as the number one way to limit the risk. And, according to the Journal of Public Health, “Up to two-thirds of the harmful effects of chlorine are due to inhalation and skin absorption while showering.”
Chlorine in our tap water kills out all sorts of yucky bacteria and disease. That’s generally considered a good thing. But, once the chlorine mixes with organic compounds in the water, it creates compounds whose lingering effects can cause yucky side effects in our bodies and those of our children.
- Although this specifically talks about indoor swimming pools, a 2006 study from Belgium showed “support (for) the hypothesis implicating pool chlorine in the rise of childhood asthma in industrialized countries .”
- The International Journal of Environment and Health reported a “significant positive association between the risk of childhood leukemia and levels of chlorine-containing chemicals in the atmosphere” from researchers in Belgium in 2011.
- Chlorine can kill out our own good bacteria that we need for optimum health. I make sure my kids get probiotic-rich foods and beverages every day because the beneficial bacteria in our gut is the first line of defense against illness…like those pesky sniffles that seem to be brought home from school this time of year. Chlorine’s job is to kill the bacteria in municipal water…ever thought about what it does when it travels through your own microflora?
So, what can we do about it? Luckily, there are two very easy and affordable ways to neutralize chlorine and its byproducts in the water and bring balance back to bathtime. First, you can use pool test strips to check the chlorine levels in your water. Try checking before and after you use a neutralizing method to test the reduction in the levels.
Bath Dechlorinator Ball
The Rainshow’r Crystal Bath Ball Dechlorinator is what we have in our bathroom. Swirl it for 10 minutes or so around the tub before getting in—don’t hang it over the faucet as the tub fills, the force of the water and the limited contact time through the filter won’t get you the results you want. My oldest daughter loves to do this. The inner filter lasts for more than 200 baths. If you’re going to add things to your bath water like Epsom salts, essential oils, or bubbles, be sure and do that AFTER you use the dechlorinator.
Remember the song that told us all that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Well, as it turns out, a spoonful of Vitamin C powder helps the chlorine levels go down. You can neutralize the nasty by-products of chlorine with just about 2 Tbsp of ascorbic acid mixed in with the bath water and left to sit for just a few minutes.
And the Third Option…
Chlorine dissipates over time. If you were to fill a bathtub and let it sit for 24 hours, you’d greatly reduce the amount of chlorine in the water. It’s why you have to check chlorine levels in a pool and adjust them regularly. Of course, this means that your kids have to take cold/lukewarm baths every day, and that’s probably just not a battle any mom needs to fight…so stick with options one or two.
Have you thought about the chlorine in our bathwater? Have you tried any of these strategies? What works in your house?
This blog has been linked at Small Footprint Fridays.
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