My Super Awesome New Showerhead

I got a new Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Showerhead, Chrome Finish via Amazon.

According to the package, it reduces chlorine, sulfur odor, and scale. In addition to the filter, it also has the following “features”

  • 5 function massage head (kind of pointless to me, I only use one)
  • Easy to install – no tools needed (correct, but I did need a wrench to get my old shower head off)
  • Easy filter change
  • 10,000 gallon filter capacity (meaning I only have to change the $12 filter about every 6 months)
  • 5 year limited warranty
  • Will not exceed 2.5 gpm flow rate (I’m not sure this is true, my old showerhead had a 2.5 gpm flow and this one has less pressure.)

I chose this shower head over others due to its low price ($24.49), small size, and mostly positive reviews. The fact that one review mentioned that Culligan drinking water filters ranked higher than both Pur and Brita in Consumer Reports definitely helped as well.

Ok, but why did I buy a filtered showerhead?

Ever since I moved to the UT area, I’ve been having interesting skin problems. My skin was getting increasingly drier, even when I continuously put on inordinate amounts of lotion. My hair too, became dry, very flat, and seemed to break easier. A WOMAN’S NIGHTMARE!

One night it clicked– I have hard water! 

Hard water occurs naturally from minerals in the soil and is really annoying– it builds up in faucets and appliances, leaves spots on dishes, reduces the life of fabrics, and requires more soap to clean with yet leaves irritating residues on clothes, sheets, and skin. (Pssst… Vinegar works well when it comes to cleaning limescale)

Check out “What’s in the Water?” for information on Austin’s water quality. It’s got all sorts of interesting tidbits from the hardness (“moderately hard”) to the amount of chloroform in the water (7.3 micrograms/L).

The filter also removes chlorine (probably its main advertisement). The funniest part is that chlorine is added as part of the disinfection process (and then leaves lots of byproducts).

In addition to being smelly, damaging hair (remember how your hair would turn green if you went swimming a lot [even though I never had that problem because I’m awesome]?) and skin, chlorine, when heated, forms volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are inhaled and absorbed in the skin.

This video, although obviously made as part of an advertising campaign, explains what’s happening really well.

I’ve seen lots of scary statistics floating around (One supposedly from the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality is that chlorinated water increases cancer risk by 93%, but I can’t find the primary source) so I decided to do some research myself.

I found that yes, there is an association between chlorinated water and cancer [1], [2], [3], and yes, we do inhale and absorb VOCs in the shower [4]. I was unable to find concrete statistics about how much it increases the chance of cancer. However, I am not too concerned about chlorine causing cancer (even though I have a 10 times higher chance of getting cancer than the average person, yay ulcerative colitis) because I imagine the chances are pretty small (despite what the above ad says).

I have been using the shower head for about two weeks and have already noticed a huge difference. Within one shower I no longer experienced dryness and flakiness on my face, and within two the rest of my skin became as soft and supple as my face. I did not notice any difference in my hair right away but now I’m finding that it’s shinier, softer, and has a little more bounce to it. I can’t stop admiring it!!

All in all, I am super happy with my purchase for its immediate benefit to my skin and hair due to removal of scale and chlorine, as well as long term health benefits due to less exposure to VOCs.

[1] Cantor, K.P. (1997). Drinking water and cancer. Cancer Causes & Control, 8(3), 292-308.
[2] Doyle, T. (1997). The association of drinking water source and chlorination by-products with cancer   incidence among postmenopausal women in Iowa: a prospective cohort study. American Journal of Public Health, 87(7), 1168-76.
[3] Villanueva CM, Fernández F, Malats N, Grimalt JO, Kogevinas M. Meta-analysis of studies on individual consumption of chlorinated drinking water and bladder cancer. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2003 Mar;57(3):166-73. Erratum in: J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Jan;59(1):87. PubMed PMID: 12594192; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1732410.
[4] Jo, W.K., Weisel, C.P. (1996). Ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposures to chloroform and trichloroethene from tap water. Environmental Health Perspectives, 104(1), 48-51.
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