The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that a small amount of chlorine in tap water is safe to drink. But how do we get chlorine in tap water? What purpose does it serve, and how can we protect ourselves from ingesting too much chlorine?
What is chlorine?
Chlorine is an element that, in its gas form, is highly poisonous. But, in its liquid form, chlorine is a bleaching agent that kills harmful bacteria.
Why is there chlorine in tap water?
Because chlorine kills harmful bacteria, it’s used in swimming and drinking water to protect us from harmful contaminants. Chlorinated water in pools has much more of the chemical than drinking water, since it’s not meant for us to consume. In tap water, the EPA says it’s safe for water treatment plants to add up to 4 parts chlorine per million parts water for water purification purposes. This amount is safe to drink.
What happens if there’s too much chlorine in tap water?
Have you ever accidentally swallowed pool water? If so, you might have had a stomach ache, vomiting, or diarrhea. This is how chlorine poisoning tends to present itself – an upset stomach and digestive issues – because it’s rare to ingest a lot of chlorine at once. But, in large doses, chlorine can cause chemical burns, respiratory issues, or even death.
How likely is there to be too much chlorine in tap water?
It depends on where you live. Water treatment plants might test water for chlorine levels as often as every day, or as infrequently as once a month or less.
How can you make sure there’s not too much chlorine in your drinking water?
You can buy a water testing kit from TestSure! The chlorine test strip is so simple to use – just dip it into some tap water for a second, then compare to the color chart. If the chlorine level exceeds 4 mg/l, it’s too high.
What should you do if there’s too much chlorine in your tap water?
If the chlorine level in your tap water is more than 4 mg/l, stop drinking it. Switch to bottled water. Call your local water treatment plant and let them know, then wait for the problem to be solved before drinking your tap water again.