I was driving in Florida near Belle Glade — the nation’s top sugarcane farmland — when a warning came on the radio. Pregnant women in the near vicinity were being told that taking showers or baths could cause birth defects because the water vapors were too toxic.
The Source of the Problem
The cause of these vapors, says the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), is that when water from polluted Lake Okeechobee (a major water source for south Florida) joins with chlorine during water purification, trihalomethanes (THMs) are formed. Showers and bath water vaporize the THMs. THMs can cause cancer and birth defects.
ATSDR insists it is fine to drink the treated water; just don’t breathe it if you’re pregnant. “A person’s natural metabolism can remove THMs from water that is ingested, but inhaled water vapor could end up going straight to a fetus.” I wonder how many studies prove that little children who breathe THMs aren’t harmed by these vapors — only fetuses are. And what proof is there that drinking this water over many years is just fine?
What’s a pregnant woman to do when she needs to wash up? According to ATSDR, use ventilation, make it quick, and … well, just don’t breathe.
How did the government respond to protect families? With this drastic warning, people living in the area naturally hoped something would be done to reduce the pollution of Lake Okeechobee. Instead, just last month the Environmental Protection Agency took the side of the polluters in a related lawsuit — for the first time ever. So, the toxic vapors continue to thrive!
Many of you live in locations where water is being treated with chlorine, and THMs are being produced. They may be at so-called “acceptable” levels and don’t generate news-flash warnings. But they are still toxic, and their cumulative effect can hurt you. Dr. Doris Rapp has long advised the public to beware of chemicals in water that are absorbed through the skin during bathing, or breathed in during showers.
Finding Your Filters
ACN Latitudes recommends the use of filters for showers and baths (you can use the filtered shower head to fill the tub). Try these links for filters, or search the internet for other options. Of course a full house filter is great, if you can afford to one.