What Is Chloramine?

Chloramine is a chemical compound of chlorine and ammonia. It does not dissipate or evaporate into the air as chlorine does. It is highly toxic and lethal to marine animals and fish. When in contact with organic materials in raw water, it creates toxic by-products. One of the many alternative methods for water disinfection available to PAWC. It is the cheapest and easiest of the options.

WHY DOES PAWC WANT TO USE IT IN THE DRINKING WATER?

Chlorine also makes by-products when it interacts with organic matter in the source or raw water. EPA has ruled that those by-products must be reduced by the year 2012. Chloramine does help reduce chlorine by-products.

PAWC also needs a “residual” or chemical in the pipe lines from the plant to our houses that will kill bacteria in the water on its way to our homes. Chloramine is a good chemical for that purpose because is does not dissipate and will remain in the lines to fight bacteria all the way to our homes.

HOWEVER: Chloramine creates its own by-products that are more toxic than those of chlorine and are genotoxic, which means they attack our DNA. There are other methods of reducing chlorine by-products and cleaning the water as it runs through the lines without using chloramines. (See other articles.)

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT CHLORAMINES?

Toxic By-products: In recent studies funded and conducted by the EPA, scientists have discovered many by-products of chloramines that are cytotoxic and genotoxic. These byproducts are mutagens and have the potential to cause cancer and birth defects. Some of the known by-products are Iodoacetic Acid, Hydrazine and Nitrosamines.

These by-products are created in the water purification process. See more under Studies. While the EPA has studied these by-products and determined them to be “potent” carcinogens, they are only in the beginning stages of regulating them.

Health Concerns: In addition to the long term effects of the by-products discussed above, hundreds of people in other areas of the country in chloramines service areas are reporting respiratory and skin problems related to the use of chloraminated water. When chloramine undergoes heat or pH changes, it changes to di and tri-chloramines. Tri-chloramine is a potent respiratory irritant.

People are reporting difficulty breathing during and after showering and rashes, both of which resolve when they leave their water source for a week or two and which return upon return to the water source. CDC is currently investigating the reported cases in Vermont. There are studies that indicate that chloraminated water may adversely react with certain prescription medications. (See Studies for more information.)

Chloramine is also highly corrosive: Chloramine is a corrosive causing lead to leach out of lead, brass and copper pipes. Lead ingestion is poisonous especially to children and pregnant women. Studies have connected lead poisoning to developmental delays in children, autism and ADD. Pediatricians report that NO amount of lead is safe for children. When combined with Fluoride, the corrosion level increases. See Studies for more information.

Because chloramines is highly corrosive, it also disintegrates rubber and elastomer pipe fittings in pipe lines, faucets, hot water heaters, shower heads, sprinklers, water meters, bathroom toilets, ice makers, fire suppression systems. See Studies for more information.Increasing heat, increases corrosiveness, therefore your hot water heater, dishwasher, spa are all highly subject to this corrosion.

Fish kills and the environment: Chloramine kills fish. People with aquariums and ponds will have to treat their water differently to safe guard their fish. However: nothing can be done to safe guard our creeks and streams if there is a water main break that flows into the Yellow Breeches or Conodoguinet. Since the chloramines does not dissipate like chorine does, it will go into the creeks at full strength and result in a massive fish kill.

National Security Concerns: Chloramine does not react the same as chlorine to contaminants. A drop in chlorine levels signals a water facility that there is a contaminant in the water. Chloramine will not react the same way and will not provide that critical early alert. Manufacturers of terrorist detection systems have recommended that chloramines NOT be used as a disinfection in the water systems for this reason and have more strenuously recommended that they not be used in service areas where there are military bases as they are likely targets for terrorist activity. (See Studies)

CAN HOUSE FILTERS OR FAUCET FILTERS KEEP THIS OUT?

We are still talking to filtration companies. Most of them are trying to figure this out as well as they had no more notice than the rest of us and have been flooded with calls. From what we know at this point, the filtration companies are saying that they do not know of a filter that will be certain to keep the chloramines out. They have indicated that the faucet filters will NOT work.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

There are methods of filtration and disinfection that will lower the chlorine by-products without adding new chemicals to the system.

  • UV Light
  • Reverse Osmosis
  • Ultra filtration
  • Micro filtration

These are the non-chemical ways of reducing chlorine by-products. Micro filtration can remove between 90 and 99% of organics in the raw water, thereby reducing the amount of by-products created in chlorination. A combination of UV light and micro filtration can result in the cleanest and greenest water available. Chlorine is still the best and most favored disinfectant available for drinking water disinfection. It is the by-products that are a problem. These methods would reduce the by-products without creating others. (See Alternatives to Chemical disinfection for more information.)