Chloramine is the best water disinfection agent. It is a long-lasting disinfectant that protects against waterborne microbes. After decades of using chlorine to sterilize and treat water, chloramine is being used more frequently in the United States. However, chloramine has its flaws.
Recent research has shown that chloramine can cause a number of adverse side effects on water quality, human and plumbing health, as well as on the environment. It can also make it difficult to filter water. But don’t worry. We’ll dive deeper into these findings today to help you understand the dangers and reasons why you should limit your exposure. We’ll then explore safe and effective ways to eliminate chloramine from drinking water.
What Is Chloramine?
The chemical disinfectant chloramine is formed by the reaction of ammonia with free chlorine. The reaction usually produces several inorganic chloramines, including trichloramine, dichloramines, monochloramines, and organochlorines. Chloramine is a five-part chloramine solution and one-part ammonia. It is used in water treatment. It can also be used to “secondarily disinfect” water to stop microbial growth.
Why is Chlorine being replaced by Chloramine?
Water treatment facilities draw water from both natural sources such as rivers and lakes and groundwater sources like underground aquifers. They then distribute it to the public. These water sources can contain bacteria, protozoa, and fungi as well as other microbes. Municipal water systems must disinfect the water first to prevent the spread of disease-causing microorganisms. Here is where chloramine (at least, as of recent) comes in.
Because of its low cost and effectiveness, chlorine was the first chemical that American municipalities used for water disinfection. The process of oxidation is initiated when chlorine is added to water. The chlorine creates a weak acid, called hypochlorous acid. This acid has a neutral electric charge. This acid penetrates bacteria’s cell walls and kills them. Although chlorine is still used as the primary disinfectant in most U.S. water systems, there are two major downsides to it:
- It is volatile, so it can escape from tap water when it travels through mains. This eliminates the chlorine residual. Water that does not contain residual chlorine is more vulnerable to microbial growth.
- It can react with naturally occurring organic substances, creating disinfection byproducts (DBPs), which can lead to liver and kidney problems, cancer, or even death.
Chloramine was then popularized in several cities. It kills microorganisms that can cause disease and it directly addresses two of the most serious problems associated with chlorine-based disinfection.
Chloramine, although a weaker chemical than chlorine, is more volatile and stays in the water longer. This remarkable staying power prevents microbial contamination over long distances via miles of pipes. It also ensures that all parts of the water distribution network are properly disinfected.
Chloramine is also preferred by municipalities because it produces significantly fewer DBPs than chlorine. Chloramine can be added to water sources with organic matter, such as a lake or rivers. This creates DBPs including trihalomethane (or THM) and haloacetic acid (HAAS). These volatile unwanted organic compounds have significant health consequences.
Long-term exposure to THMs can lead to cancer and reproductive complications. The brain, nerves, and eyes can be damaged by HAAs if they are ingested at levels higher than the maximum contaminant. HAAs have been shown to increase cancer risk in animals and are currently considered a possible human carcinogen.
Chloramine in drinking water can improve public health in that it lowers the incidence of infectious diseases such as cholera and hepatitis.
Drinking Water: The Dangers Of Chloramine
Although they are not allowed to be inhaled through water, chloramines can cause severe irritations and corrosive effects.
These are some of the major disadvantages of using chloramine to disinfect water.
* Inflames The Eyes And Skin
Chloramine in water can cause skin irritations and irritations. Chloramine-treated water can lead to severe rash outbreaks in sensitive skin. These can exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema or acne if you already have them. Chloramines can cause skin flakiness, dryness, scaliness, and outbreaks. People can experience stinging, red eyes, mucus membrane problems, sinus problems, and issues with their nasal passages and mucus membranes. You are inhaling chloramine in enclosed spaces, such as a shower stall. This can cause severe discomfort for people who are sensitive to chloramine.
* Harsh taste and odor
Although not as harsh as chlorine chloramine can leave the water with a metallic taste or tangy chemical aftertaste. It can also leave the water with a distinctive “pool” smell.
* May cause kidney dialysis patients to become more severe
By contaminating dialysis fluids and entering dialysis patients’ blood, chloramine may cause kidney dialysis patients to become ill. Chloramines can cause hemoglobin to be altered, which can lead to a potentially fatal condition called “hemolytic anemia”.
* Toxic to aquatic plants and animals
Keep your aquarium clean and free from chloramine. Aquatic creatures like fish, amphibians, and water-based reptiles are extremely sensitive to chloramines. These animals can be killed if they are exposed to chloramine via their gills and skin. The chemical can also cause harm to humans and other animals who eat the contaminated fish and other aquatic animals. The chemical chloramine can cause damage to plants and alter their delicate nutrient balance.
* Corrodes Metal Pipes And Solders
One example of the indirect effects of chloramine is when a water treatment system replaces its chloramine-based water treatment system to comply with DBP regulations. The municipality must then increase the pipe corrosion inhibitor in order to stop chloramine from altering water chemicals and causing lead or copper leaching into the water.
Is Chloramines Safe To Drink?
Chloramines don’t pose a danger to health. According to the U.S. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water containing chloramines that meet the EPA regulatory standard up to 4 mg/L can be used for bathing, cooking, and other household purposes. Research has shown that drinking water containing 4 mg/L chloramines is not associated with any health problems or long-term effects. Public water providers are required to follow strict guidelines when distributing water. This means that they will not be exposed to water containing more than 4 mg/L chloramines. Hemodialysis patients are the exception to this rule as chloramines can get into their bloodstream through their dialysis membrane. You should still remove chloramine from your water supply completely, given the potential health effects, it can have on humans, aquatic animals, pipes, and plumbing.
This post was written by a water treatment expert at Paragon Water Systems. At Paragon Water Systems we are the Manufacturers of the best Carbon Block Water Filter manufacturers! We know that the best product comes from the best materials. We manufacture home water solutions such as reverse osmosis systems, under sink water filtration systems, showerhead filtration systems, carbon cartridges, and a wide variety of other products. Our focus is to provide Americans with safe and clean water throughout the home.