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Disinfection with Chloramine

What is Chloramination?

Chloramination is the process of adding chloramine to drinking water to disinfect it and kill germs. It is sometimes used as an alternative to chlorination. Chloramines are a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia. The particular type of chloramine used in drinking water disinfection is called monochloramine which is mixed into water at levels that kill germs but are still safe to drink.

Are there any Health Issues Associated with Chloramine in water?

Studies indicate that using or drinking water with small amounts of chloramine does not cause harmful health effects and provides protection against waterborne disease outbreaks. These studies reported no observed health effects from drinking water with chloramine levels of less than 50 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in drinking water. A normal level for drinking water disinfection can range from 1.0 to 4.0 mg/L.

Your water company monitors water quality regularly to provide you with safe drinking water. Some people are more sensitive than others to chemicals and changes in their environment. Individuals who have health concerns should seek medical advice from their healthcare provider before contacting their local health department. Contact your local health department for more information.

What are safe levels of chloramine in water?

Chloramine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 4 parts per million (ppm) are considered safe in drinking water. At these levels, harmful health effects are unlikely to occur.

Does chloramine affect patients during dialysis?

During dialysis, large amounts of water are used to clean waste products out of a patient’s blood. Dialysis centers must treat the water to remove all chemical disinfectants, including chlorine and chloramine, before the water can be used for dialysis. Home dialysis users should consult the machine manufacturer for instructions on how to properly treat their water before use.

Why is my water provider switching from chlorine to chloramine disinfection?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows drinking water treatment plants to use chloramine and chlorine to disinfect drinking water. Research shows that chloramine and chlorine both have benefits and drawbacks. Chlorine is a highly effective method of disinfection. However, while in the pipes it produces small amounts of chemicals (called “disinfection by-products”) if the source water has higher levels of dirt or germs that may react with chlorine.

Chlorine is also used up quickly in water systems. Sometimes there is not enough chlorine left to kill germs in the water by the time it reaches the end of the pipes. Chloramine can last longer in the water pipes and produces fewer disinfection by-products. To meet EPA standards intended to reduce disinfection by-products, some water utilities are switching to chloramine.

Will chloramine affect my water’s taste or smell?

If you notice any change in the taste or smell of your water, it may be that the water treated with chloramine has less of a “chlorine” taste and smell than water treated with chlorine.

Will chloramine increase the amount of lead or copper in my drinking water?

Chloramine can change the chemical properties of the water, which can affect lead and copper pipes. Lead and copper levels are strictly regulated in drinking water by the EPA Lead and Copper Rule. EPA provides guidance for local water authorities switching to chloramine on how to minimize lead and copper levels.

If you are concerned about lead or copper levels in your household water, call EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for testing information.

Will chloramine affect my pets or plants?

Chlorine and chloramine are toxic to fish, other aquatic animals, reptiles and amphibians. Unlike humans and other household pets, these types of animals absorb water directly into the blood stream. Don’t keep these animals in water that contains these disinfectants. Unlike chlorine, chloramine cannot be removed by letting water sit out for a few days. However, there are water treatment systems that can remove chloramine.

The small amount of chloramine added to water will not affect other pets (such as mammals and birds) and can be used regularly for watering and bathing animals.

Is chloramine treatment new?

Chloramine has been used as a drinking water disinfectant in the United States in places like Cleveland, Ohio, Springfield, Illinois, and Lansing, Michigan since 1929. In 1998, an EPA survey estimated 68 million Americans were drinking water disinfected with chloramine. Several major U.S. cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Washington, D.C. use chloramine to disinfect drinking water. Chloramine is recognized as a safe disinfectant and a good alternative to chlorine.

How do you remove Chloramines from your water?

Carbon filters, which are very common in water purification and filtration products, can reduce the concentration of chloramines in your tap water and the general taste and odor associated with chloramines and DBPs.

The most common type of carbon filter in products on the market today is an activated carbon filter. This type of filter uses granular activated carbon media to reduce many contaminants and unwanted components in your water.

Less common is a more advanced form of carbon filtration, called catalytic activated carbon filtration. EcoWater uses these types of filters in multiple solutions because catalytic activated carbon filters can reduce THMs and chloramines. In catalytic activated carbon filters, the structure of the carbon changes through different activation and manufacturing processes.

Water filter systems that are NSF-certified to reduce chlorine may not reduce chloramines at comparable levels. When choosing a water filtration system, do not assume that chlorine reduction translates to chloramine reduction. Read the specifications on any models you’re considering to ensure they reduce chloramines as well.

Source: CDC.gov

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