Most people who know me understand that, even though I am a card-carrying liberal hippie Democrat, I have managed to maintain a relatively high level of rationality in my everyday life. Sure, I bring my own bags to the grocery store, but at the same time I use household cleaners loaded with stuff that’s probably pretty dangerous. I LOVE bleach (Camille can fill you in on my life-long love affair with bleach). Nothing says “clean” like bleach. Sure, it’s stinky and will burn your skin off, but man, is it ever effective at killing the nasty bacteria in my kitchen sink.
However, while I can extoll the virtues of chlorine bleach as a staple in my cleaning cabinet all day long, I find myself faced with what I think is a serious problem now that we’ve moved. Ever since we left Texas, I’ve complained repeatedly about the horrible water quality here in Florida. Orlando is bad, Tampa is bad, but NOTHING comes close to how bad our water is here in Fernandina Beach. I’ve known it since we moved up here; my clothes fade REALLY fast in the wash, my skin always smells faintly of chlorine after I shower or wash my hands, and I’ve even been known to give the dogs bottled water (I have YET to drink the tap water here; it scares me). Five minutes ago, though, the depth of the problem *literally* hit me right in the face. I realized that the toilet in the guest bath was running (as it is prone to do), so I opened the door to fix it. Oh. My. God. The overwhelming stench of chlorine from the running water has burned the inside of my nose. I have a headache from two seconds of exposure. That bathroom smells like it has been SOAKED in bleach, and it was caused by RUNNING WATER.
Roughly 9% of all rectal and bladder cancers are due directly to the long-term consumption of overly chlorinated water (source: July issue of the American Journal of Public Health). Chlorine has also been linked to artery damage (awesome, since I live with a cardiac patient), as well as digestive imbalance (chlorine kills protective acidophilus found in most drinking water). I don’t think there is a filter on the market that is capable of removing the chlorine from my water. I will definitely be looking into a shower filter, though, because chlorine is absorbed through the skin, which can lead to melanoma.
I’m not usually an alarmist, and when we lived in Texas I had no problem drinking the tap water, even without a filter. But there is NO way anybody can tell me that my water here is safe, and if they’d like to try, I’d love to extend the invitation to come on over and spend 5 minutes in my guest bathroom with the door closed and the water running. I’ll stick with my bottles of water, in the meantime, and I honestly don’t care that my carbon footprint is the size of Sasquatch because of it.