Dermal Exposure Assesment: Principals and Applications

The following table is an excerpt from Healthy Water for a Longer Life written by Martin Fox, Ph.D.

Average Skin Absorption Versus Oral Ingestion

Skin Absorption
Exposure Time
Oral Ingestion
Water Consumed per Day
Adult Bathing
15 min
2 Liters
Infant Bathing
15 Min
1 Liters
Child Swimming
1 Hour
1 Liters
Overall Average

The table above outlines the rates of skin absorption. As you can see the rates are tremendous. H2O Concepts believes one should have a whole house filtration system installed to prevent chlorine absorption from bathing and shower water. Yet, one of the problems is to properly evaluate the effectiveness of these units. In the past, different types of whole house filtration systems have been successfully used to remove a variety of minerals from the water such as iron, etc. However, our recommendation for installing a system is for chlorine removal, not mineral removal.

Chlorine and Your Shower

“Taking long hot showers is a health risk, according to research presented last week in Anaheim, California, at a meeting for the American Chemical society.   Showers—and to a lesser extent baths—lead to a greater exposure to toxic chemicals contained in water supplies than does drinking water.”


Ian Anderson

“Studies indicate the suspect chemicals can also be inhaled and absorbed through the skin during showering and bathing.”

“Ironically, even the Chlorine widely used to disinfect water produces Carcinogenic traces.”

“Though 7 out of 10 Americans drink chlorinated water, its safety over long term is uncertain.”

“Drinking chlorinated water may as much as double the risk of Bladder Cancer, which strikes 40,000 people a year.”


Is your water safe—The dangerous State or Your Water

“A long hot shower can be dangerous.  The toxic chemicals are inhaled in high concentrations.”


DR. John Andelman, Ph.D.

“On one hand, chlorination has freed civilization from the constant dangers of waterborne epidemics.  On the other hand, in the mid-70s, scientist discovered that chlorination could create carcinogens in water.”

“80% of the population drinks chlorinated water.”

“There was a higher incident of cancer of the esophagus, rectum, breast, and larynx and of Hodgkin’s Disease among those drinking chlorinated surface waters.”

“People who shower frequently could be exposed through ingestion, inhalation and/or dermal absorption.”


Consumer Reports Books

“Skin absorption of contaminates has been underestimated and ingestion may not constitute the sole or even primary route of exposure.”


Dr. Halina Brown

“An Adult who takes a 15-minute bath typically absorbs almost twice as much water, and chemicals [and minerals] dissolved in it, as he or she gets in a day’s drinking water.”


Dr. Martin Fox

“When we grouped the people according to what their course of drinking water had been, the risk [of Bladder Cancer] was much, much stronger among people who had been drinking chlorinated water for much of their lives, as contrasted to those who had been drinking non-chlorinated water.”


Dr. Kenneth Cantor, Ph.D.

“…the risk factor in developing bladder cancer among people who ingested chlorinated water range from 12-27 percent [higher than those who don’t]…”


National Cancer Institute

Due to chlorine and the combination of many chemicals used in household cleaning, the average indoor air is 5 times more toxic than outdoor air regardless of whether the home is in the city or a rural area.  Cancer has been shown to grow twice as fast indoors than outdoors. Bathing in Chlorinated water also strips the natural protective oils in the skin and hair causing scaling and itching and is a major irritant for skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.  It kills the beneficial bacteria on the surface of the skin that offer a natural defense against skin disorders.

Two-thirds of the harmful chlorine exposure actually comes from showering.  A 15 minute hot steamy shower is equivalent to drinking 8 glasses of water because of the vapors inhaled.  The EPA states that “Due to chlorine and showering virtually every home in America has a detectable level of chloroform in the air.”  This is because chlorine vaporizes in steam and combines with other organic compounds into chloroform which is a strong respiratory irritant and causes fatigue. A warm shower opens pores and allows a high rate of absorption.  During a shower, 98% of the water goes down the drain, while 70-90% of the chemicals vaporize before the water hits the ground and the vapors remain in the air.

Journal of Health states that chlorine is linked to an increase in certain types of cancer, asthmas and skin irritations.  In a 1987 study by the National Cancer Institute, the FDA and EPA found an increased risk of bladder cancer with long term consumption of chlorinated water. The EPA says that chlorine follows cigarette smoke in leading causes of cancer.  An experiment done on chickens by adding chlorine to their water caused 955 of them to develop atherosclerosis.