The Low Tox Series – Bath and Shower Water

I’m back and talking about what we can do to reduce the toxins in our shower or bath water. I’ll be honest, I’ve taken a lot of baths in my life. I love them. I even have a little bath tray to hold my ice water and phone so I can watch the Great British Baking Show, hands-free. Since the whole marriage and children thing, I take baths a lot less often. But my little one takes plenty. And even though she may be covered in the remnants of her past meals and dirt, I want her bath water to be clean and free of toxins. So I did some research to make that happen and I’m here to share what I’ve found with you so you can make the best, informed choice for your little ones.

What does the research say?
I was surprised to find a fair amount of research on this topic, specifically relating to chlorine, which is used in our water systems to disinfect and kill harmful pathogens and chloramine (which is chlorine + ammonia), is also used for this purpose. One of the biggest concerns here is with Trihalomethanes (THMs), which are a byproduct of water disinfection with chlorine when it reacts with organic matter in the water. Lucky for me, my water contains lots of these chemicals which have been linked to cancer and adverse reproductive outcomes. Oh goody. 

Our skin is our largest organ and toxins like THMs are absorbed through our skin, especially when the nice warm water opens up our pores. As anyone with a cold can attest, the moist air also opens up our sinuses and our lungs. The warm water causes these chemicals to vaporize and we inhale them while showering, which can damage the respiratory tract. Research suggests that the level of these chemicals in the blood after showering is correlated with the concentration of these volatile chemicals in the water and on the person’s ability to metabolize them. I mentioned in my previous blog on drinking water that children with Autism have a reduced ability to detoxify. Another study suggests that exposure to THMs and the associated risk can be mitigated by showering less often, making the water cooler to reduce steam, spending less time in the shower and enhancing ventilation. These are good and practical tips. But to completely remove THMs you need an activated carbon filter or a reverse osmosis system. The general consensus from what I’ve read is that activated carbon filters are much less effective with warm water so this may not be a viable option.

So what else can we do?
A great option for bath time is to add vitamin C, which neutralizes the chlorine. The recommendation is 1 tsp of powdered vitamin C, which is about 4000mg. I have 1000mg capsules at home and empty 4 of those into my daughter’s bath water. I wait a few minutes for them to do their work before I put her in. This little dechlorinating ball is another, reusable option. 

Shower Power
As for a shower filter to take care of that pesky chlorine, there are a few options I like. 

Let me just say I’ve done a lot of digging, hoping to find a shower filter that can remove most, if not all of those toxins, including THMs, that showed up in my EWG tap water report. I’m of the opinion that a shower filter with that capacity just doesn’t exist. For that level of power, I will need a whole house system, and I do hope to install one of these eventually when we own our own home and can make the investment. For now, I just use a shower filter which attaches right to my shower head. Most shower filters like this remove or reduce chlorine and/or chloramine (to some degree), sediment, iron and hydrogen sulfide. For now, this is the best I can do and I’m content with it.

For our home shower, I most recently purchased this filter by Aquasana. Prior to that, I had tried this one by Aqua Bliss. Overall, they’re both fine, no big complaints but no big amazing results to share either. My shower liner still gets pretty grimey, but I’m sure that would happen even faster without the filter. I chose these options based on reviews I had read and on the type of filtration system that each filter uses.

Berkey does have a shower filter as well. I haven’t tried it yet because I’m obsessed with having a detachable hose and I had previously thought that the Berkey filter didn’t have that option. I just recently found out that it can be used with my current shower head/hose so this will be my next purchase once it comes back in stock.

A couple more options that would be worth trying are made by Radiant Life and Clearly Filtered. I haven’t tried either of these but I do like the companies and have found them to make quality products.

Alrighty, that’s a wrap for reducing toxins in your shower! Unfortunately, there isn’t a one and done option that takes care of all toxins for us but there are some practical tips to help reduce our exposure. As I come across more research or filter options, I’ll keep these posts updated so you can have the latest info. Next up, I’m going to dive into what to look for and how to find low-tox personal care products, especially sunscreen. The warmer months are upon us and if we’re going to be slathering this stuff all over our skin, we want it to be helpful, not harmful. Until next time, be well 💙

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