Get To Know Water Quality – Chemicals

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.

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“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

 

Get To Know Water Quality – The EPA

Understanding The EPA Water Quality Standards

When discussing the quality of the municipal tap water we at Trionics understand that the water is considered safe to drink as long as it meets the standards set forth by the EPA. This bears the question -Is “safe” good enough for your family and home?

Consider The following –

  1. The EPA is responsible for setting the standards for drinking water and requires water providers to test for and regulate only 88 contaminates.
    • 3 Disinfectants
    • 4 Disinfection byproducts
    • 8 Micro Organisms
    • 16 Inorganic Chemicals
    • 53 Organic Chemicals
    • 4 Radionucides
  2. There are 75,000 different chemical compounds used in our everyday enviorment.
  3. EPA Saftey levels for the 88 contaminates are based upon the potential health effects for a 175lb adult drinking only ONE chemical and does not take into account combined toxicity of two or more chemicals.
  4. Children consume 3 times the amount of fluid per pound of body weight
  5. Water Providers are allowed to average contaminate testing results over the period of a year.This means spikes can reach unhealthy levels and still remain in compliance with the EPA.
  6. In 2001, 1 out of 4 community water systems did not conduct testing or report the results for all of the monitoring required to verify the safety of thier drinking water. (Factoids: Drinking Water and Ground Water Statistics for 2001, EPA 816-K-02-004.)

While The 74,913+ chemical contaminates, that may or may not be in the tap water, there are the 88 contaminates for which the local water provider is required to look for. Missouri Consumers can find out the levels of contaminates detected in their water by clicking the link to the Missouri .gov website  and enter the county you live in at the bottom of the page. Addtionally, consumers can also visit the EPA website which provides details and warnings regarding the potential health effects from those contaminates.

Take Special Note Of The Following Pages From The EPA PDF:
1. Page 1— Warning: Sensitive subpopulations that includes infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and cancer patients.
2. Page 5—Warning: Boil Advisories and Disease causing Micro-organisms.
3. Page 5 – Warning: Nitrates and Blue Baby Syndrome.
4. Page 6– Warning: Lead exposure in tap water.
5. Page 8- Standard Water Filtration Process done by Water Providers.
6. Page 9 – Warning: Tap Water Disinfection and Cancer Causing Disinfection by-products.
7. Page 13-14— Warning: Vulnerability Assessments for Bioterrorism Preparedness and water system security.
8. Page 15-17— improving the Safety of Your Drinking Water utilizing various Water Filtration methods which are also utilized by Trionics to clean your water. (Warning: Pay special attention to the first paragraph on page 15 and then refer back to page 1 to the Warning for the Sensitive Sub-population classification and the see if you or someone in your family falls into this group.)
9. Page 18-20—Personal Well Water Safety Guidelines.
10. Page 21-22— Warning: Common Water pollutants and their impact on Water quality. Protecting Water Sources
11. Pages 23-26—The list of all 88 Contaminates that fall under the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. According to the EPA these are the contaminants most commonly found in our source water. This List contains the contaminate, the level allowed by the EPA to be considered safe by their standards, the potential health effect from long term exposure to that contaminate and the common source’s from which that contaminate can come from (such as industrial dumping or agricultural runoff).
12. Page 27—Notes in fine print (if you really want to dig into it).
13. Page 28-29—Additional resources and publications.

Wtih all of this knowledge you probably understand that Water providers have a tough job to provide the quality of water they do now and in the quantities demanded by a thirsty public. With the tens of thousands of chemicals we now use in our everyday environment and the fact that the water filtration methods employed by local water providers are not designed to remove these kinds of potential threats. Not to mention having to utilize a decaying network of pipes. The question now becomes not whether the water is safe, but rather, is it good for your family? is it good for your home?

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“The Way we guarantee safe drinking water is broken and needs to be fixed.”
—Carol Browner—
Former Chief Administrator for the U.S. EPA

 

Get To Know Water Quality 101

Understanding Water Quality

Water is the universal solvent—it picks up a part of everything it touches and that ‘s why we use it to clean everything.

So let us just say all water starts in the clouds, it’s soft, clean, and clear. Water falling from the sky as rain picks up dust, pollen and industrial impurities that are spewed into the air. Rain when it hits the ground picks up dirt, decayed vegetation, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and any other chemicals that are dumped on the ground.  Hard minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron just to name a few are picked up as well.

While your water pools and collects into rivers, lakes, and streams the water picks up detergents, phenols, organic industrial waste and human waste including pharmaceuticals and hormones.

Finally, the water reaches your provider. Picking up everything it can along the way. To clean the water at the plant, they put in more chemicals in a process called flocculation to help clear the water of solid matter. The water is then settled through sand and in some instances carbon. One of the processes is called Dis-infection where Chlorine or Chloramine (both Classified by the EPA as a pesticide) is added to kill or inactivate pathogens, microorganisms and algae in the water. Keep in mind pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemical waste, are not solids or bacteria.

After going through this process, the EPA says your water is safe to drink by the current standards. However, it may contain any number of these toxins—the result is sometimes your water has a bad taste or odor.

(Now you might have a better understanding to why consumers are spending over $100 billion a year to buy bottled water.)

The journey to your tap now begins by entering the transfer system that carries your water to your home. These lines under the road get 1000’s of cracks in them called “fissures”. The water moves through at tremendous speed causing a vacuum effect. The water and sewer lines run in close proximity to each other so the water pulls in raw sewage, dirt, micro-organisms, in some cases even gas from old tanks buried under old gas stations.

So the truth is the water you get at home is not the same water that even left the plant.

The biggest problem about water is that it can be different on any given day. What’s in it one day might be different the next and just because it’s clear does not make it clean. In our opinion, clear water could be more dangerous because it gives consumers the false sense of security in thinking that’s its clean and healthy when in fact it could be hiding chemicals and other contaminants that could harm your family.

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“Drinking water plants are old and out of date, and water supplies are increasingly threatened by and contaminated by chemicals and microorganisms.”

—Natural Resources Defense Council