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Environ Health Perspect. 1993 Mar;99:375-81.

Lack of effect of drinking water chlorine on lipid and thyroid metabolism in healthy humans.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH 45267.


Animal studies and a single human epidemiological study have suggested that chlorine in drinking water may raise the level of blood cholesterol. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a 4-week exposure to drinking water chlorine (1.5 L per day) at a concentration of 20 ppm (ppm = mg/L) under controlled conditions would alter circulating parameters of lipid metabolism in healthy humans. Thirty men and thirty women each completed an 8-week protocol during which diet (600 mg cholesterol per day, 40% calories as fat) and other factors known to affect lipid metabolism were controlled. For the first 4 weeks of the protocol, all subjects consumed distilled water. For the second 4 weeks, half of the subjects were assigned randomly to drink 1.5 L per day of chlorinated water (20 ppm), while the others continued drinking distilled water. Four blood samples were collected from each subject at the end of each 4-week study period. Compared to the control group, those subjects given chlorine showed no significant changes in total plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, or apolipoproteins A1, A2, or B. There was a trend toward low serum thyroxine and triiodothyronine levels in men given chlorine, though thyroid-stimulating hormone levels were unchanged. This trend, if real, was not clinically significant. Thus, short-term exposure to chlorinated drinking water at 20 ppm appears to have no significant impact on parameters of lipid or thyroid metabolism in healthy humans.

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