Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Red-Eye Showers

No, not a shower on the Red-Eye, Silly. (Do they even have those?) This is red-eye from a daily shower at home. When I got out of a long, steamy-hot shower this morning, I noticed my eyes were red. Very red. Close-my-eyes-before-I-bleed-to-death red. Do you remember as a kid, swimming underwater in a public pool with your eyes open to see where you were going? Remember how red your eyes always got? That’s how mine looked this morning.

I knew I didn't have my eyes open enough under the shower spray to get water in them. So, what caused my red eyes? Vaporized Chlorine! Chlorine used to treat water can become vaporized easily (that's why the chlorine smell dissipates overnight in an open container of tap water), and chlorine in hot water vaporizes into the air more quickly than the chlorine in cold water. The shower curtain/door keeps most of the gas contained in the air inside the shower cubicle, and the closed bathroom door keeps the remainder in the rest of the room... at least what chlorine gas our eyes, hair, skin and lungs haven't absorbed.
(By the way, "chloroform gas is the result of vaporized chlorine interacting with dead skin cells and other biological matter in the bathroom" says Ronald Frommert, a researcher of water purification issues.)

Chlorine is a toxic chemical. Duh. Why else would it kill bacteria in a water supply? Chlorine makes our hair and skin dry and brittle. Chlorine hardens the arteries, can cause pulmonary edema from breathing it, irritates skin and allergies, and is known to destroy proteins in the body. Duh, Duh. (Or maybe that should be "Dodo" for buying into all the crap they tell us is safe.)
Research shows chlorinated water in the shower is 10 times more harmful that drinking it. I actually knew all that. Don’t even ask why I didn’t put it together with my own red eyes and showering. Maybe because I never focused on my eyes reflecting in the steamy mirror, and focused instead on my unruly hair or unwanted wrinkles? (Why does steam take the wrinkles out of clothes but not skin, anyway?)

There’s not much I can do about the chlorinated town water except to buy a good chlorine filter for my showerhead. I have some ideas for hooking up our old spring water to the house again, but that’s for another post, another day.


  1. Cities LOVE to really dose with chlorine. It makes me crazy. Sunday mornings are the worst!

  2. Why are Sunday mornings different?

  3. It would be interesting to know why the chlorine content is higher on some days than others. I've noticed that around here as well. I understand the treatment plant adding more during rain storms to accomodate the increase in water volume. Maybe their records show more volume usage on weekends.

    Is it possible that Sundays may have a higher chlorine/chloramine content because the water treatment plant adds a double dose on Saturday so they can have time off on Sunday? I would think the disinfectant would be added as part of an automated process, but perhaps not. I hope you'll post the response if you query your water provider.

  4. Indeed I shall!

    I wonder if there is an easy way for a homeowner to test the chlorine level?


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