Understanding Chlorine, Chloramine and Chemicals
Chlorine and Chloramines are two of the most commonly used chemicals by water providers to disinfect tap water and kill disease causing mirco-organisms. While most homeowners are familiar with Chlorine, Chloramines (chlorine mixed with ammonia) is relatively new and its use is on the rise because it does not dissipate out of the water as quickly as chlorine.
While it is necessary to disinfect the water before drinking or using it, using Chlorine & Chloramines has unintended consequences at the same time.
Chlorine & Chloramines interact with other organic chemicals and others to produce Trihalomethanes (THM’s are known cancer causing agents) and other Disinfection by-products. Scientific studies link certain types of cancer to chlorinated water.
Things To Know About Chlorine & Chloramine
- Simply stated chlorine/chloramines are pesticides, as defined by the U.S. EPA, whose sole purpose is to kill living organisms.
- Chorine gas was used in WWI for its ability to kill and maim.
- 2/3rds of our harmful exposure is due to inhalation of steam and skin absorption while showering.
- Has a very negative cosmetic effect robbing your skin and hair of moisture and elasticity.
- Chlorine is relatively easy to filter out of water.
- Chloramine exists as three different forms or species: monochloramine (NH2Cl), dichloramine (NHCl2) and trichloramine (NCl3). They are chemically related and are easily converted into each other; thus, they are more appropriately called chloramines.
- Chloramines are all respiratory irritants and damage mucous membranes
- Chloramine effectiveness as a germicide comes with a warning by the World Health Organization.
- Chloramine is difficult to reduce/remove from water but can be achieved with the right filtration.
WHO states that Chloramine is 2,000X to 100,000X less effective (yes, you read that right) at killing microbes than free chlorine. According to the EPA, the very young, very old and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Pathogens or disease causing micro-organism do happen periodically and carry a warning by the EPA on Page 2 & 4 of the official EPA tap water report—Water on Tap.
Chlorine & Chloramine for disinfection of tap water could be likened to the bag on a loaf of bread. It’s there to protect it from outside contamination. You eat the bread…not the bag. Chlorine & Chloramine is sort of like that bag. Once you get it, it has done its job and you might want to consider getting it out of the water so you’re not exposing yourself and your family to the negative effects.
“Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States”.
–The Environmental Defense Fund